Their stories surrounding Edward Snowden’s leaks about the National Security Agency’s surveillance program won both news organizations the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in Journalism, according to an announcement made by the board’s administrator, Sig Gissler, at a press conference held at Columbia University Monday.
Both publications were chosen, he said, because “their reporting went beyond just leaked documents” and started a discussion about a deeper understanding of the issue of government surveillance.
“These awards spotlight a difficult issue which democracy wrestles with and will always wrestle with,” said Gissler.
When asked if the award will encourage more people like Snowden to become whistleblowers, Gissler said he would not speculate along those lines.
The Boston Globe staff won the award for Breaking News for its extensive coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings, while Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia of the Tampa Bay Times won the award for Local Reporting for their coverage of the abysmal living conditions of the homeless.
The New York Times won both the awards for photography – Tyler Hicks for Breaking News for his coverage of the terrorist attack in a mall in Kenya and Josh Haner for a photo essay on a Boston Marathon bombing victim’s efforts to rebuild his life after losing both legs in the attack.
For the second time since the award was instituted in 1979, no one won the Feature Writing award. The only other time this has happened was in 2004.
Gissler insisted that this was “not a statement about the quality of feature writing in the United States.” Instead, he said, multiple factors go into deciding the winner. After an extensive discussion, no single entry got a majority vote, which was absolutely essential to decide on the winner, he said.
Meanwhile, Gissler said the entries in the Books, Drama and Music category were “robust” with the music category receiving 234 entries this year, much more than last year’s 170 entries. John Luther Adams won it for Become Ocean, a composition that the judges described as “a haunting orchestral work that suggests a relentless tidal surge, evoking thoughts of melting polar ice and rising sea levels.”
Alan Taylor won his second Pulitzer in the history category, this time for The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832, a book about runaway slaves in pre-independent America.
Other winners include Donna Tartt for The Goldfinch (Fiction), Annie Baker for The Flick (Drama), Megan Marshall for Margaret Fuller: A New American Life (Biography), Vijay Seshadri for 3 Sections (Poetry) and Dan Fagin for Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation (General Nonfiction).