Pulitzer Prize winners cover scandals, crusades
New York – The New York Times and The New Yorker won the Pulitzer Prize for public service Monday for breaking the Harvey Weinstein scandal with reporting that galvanized the #MeToo movement and set off a worldwide reckoning over sexual misconduct in the workplace.
The Times and The Washington Post took the award in the national reporting category for their coverage of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and contacts between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.
The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, California, received the breaking news reporting award for coverage of the wildfires that swept through California wine country last fall, killing 44 people and destroying thousands of homes.
The Washington Post also won the investigative reporting prize for revealing decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct against Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. The Republican former judge denied the accusations, but they figured heavily in Doug Jones’ victory as the first Democrat elected to the Senate from the state in decades.
One of the biggest surprises of the day came in the nonjournalism categories when rap star Kendrick Lamar was awarded the Pulitzer for music, becoming the first non-classical or non-jazz artist to win the prize.
The Pulitzers, American journalism’s most prestigious awards, reflected a year of unrelenting news and unprecedented challenges for U.S. media, as Trump repeatedly branded reporting “fake news” and called journalists “the enemy of the people.”
The New York Times won three Pulitzers and The Washington and Reuters received two apiece.
In announcing the journalism prizes, Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy said the winners “uphold the highest purpose of a free and independent press, even in the most trying of times.”
In stories that appeared within days of each other in October, The Times and The New Yorker reported that movie mogul Weinstein faced allegations of sexual harassment and assault from a multitude of women in Hollywood and had secretly paid settlements to keep the claims from becoming public.
The Pulitzer judges said The Times’ Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey and The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow produced “explosive, impactful journalism that exposed powerful and wealthy sexual predators” and forced the issue of sexual abuse into the open.
Weinstein was ousted from the studio he co-founded and now faces criminal investigations in New York and Los Angeles. He has apologized for “the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past” but denied any nonconsensual sexual contact.
Weinstein spokeswoman Holly Baird declined to comment on the Pulitzer except to suggest similar recognition should be given to Tarana Burke, an activist who founded the #MeToo movement on Twitter about a decade ago to raise awareness of sexual violence.
In other categories, the Arizona Republic and USA Today Network won the explanatory reporting prize for a multi-format look at the challenges and consequences of building the Mexican border wall that was a centerpiece of Trump’s campaign. The project included footage from a helicopter flight along the entire 2,000-mile border.
The breaking news photography award went to Ryan Kelly of The Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Virginia, who captured the moment a car plowed into counter-protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in the college town.
The car killed counter-demonstrator Heather Heyer.
Kelly made the photo on his last day at the newspaper before moving on to a job at a brewery. In a text Monday, Kelly described the prize as an “incredible honor” but added: “Mostly I’m still heartbroken for Heather Heyer’s family and everybody else who was affected by that tragic violence.”
The Pulitzers were announced at Columbia University. This is the 102nd year of the contest.
The Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography was for this photo of when a car plowed into counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally.