This year’s Pulitzer Prize awards focused on the ways the world has become increasingly perilous, especially for journalists.
The award for Public Service went to the South Florida Sun Sentinel for its reporting on the Parkland shooting, and the Breaking News award went to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for its coverage of the Tree of Life shooting. The staff of Reuters got the nod for international reporting, noting the contributions of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo for their reporting on the murders of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar that caused the government to imprison them.
“I’m thrilled that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and their colleagues have been recognized for their extraordinary, courageous coverage, and our photojournalists for their moving pictures that show humanity defying huge obstacles,” said Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler. “I remain deeply distressed, however, that our brave reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are still behind bars.”
The awards are given every year to a select number of journalists and publications who produced excellent journalism in the last year. Pulitzer Administrator Dana Candy Announced the awards in Columbia University’s School of Journalism. She began the 103rd Pulitzer Awards by breaking with tradition, noting that before announcing any awards she wanted to acknowledge journalistic work that did not win– the 17 obituaries written by the Eagle Eye student newspaper at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a mass shooting that left students and teachers dead.
“There is hope in their example, even as security threats to journalists are greater than ever,” said Canedy, “And there is hope even as some degrade the media as an enemy to the very democracy it serves.”
And in another break from tradition, the Pulitzer committee also gave a special citation to the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, which lost five members of its staff in the deadliest attack on journalists in our country’s history, and went on working and writing the news their community needed. The special citation comes with $100,000 funding for the Capital Gazette’s continued reporting.
Captial Gazette editor Tim Hutzell said the award brought mixed emotions— a reminder of the tragedy but a testament to the work of the paper. “We spent the last couple of weeks talking about what this could mean,” Said Hutzell. “It’s a recognition of what happened after June 28. The work we’ve done in the last eight to nine months speaks volumes about the community of journalism and it speaks worlds about the people in this room.”
When asked if the Pulitzer committee intended to comment on the increasing dangers facing journalists Canedy said “I think we just made a huge statement.” She continued, “If we can use the gravitas of the Pulitzer to support journalism, we will.”