The judges of the Pulitzer Prizes looked well beyond America’s national newsrooms as they recognized some of the best journalism of 2021.
Pulitzer winners on Monday included the staff of the Miami Herald for breaking news coverage of the Surfside condo collapse; a team at the Tampa Bay Times for investigating dangers at a local battery factory; a columnist at the Kansas City Star for pursuing allegations against a retired police detective; and an opinion team at the Houston Chronicle for separating voter fraud fact from fiction.
That editorial board series, “The Big Lie,” was one of several winning submissions reflecting the aftermath of the 2020 election.
The staff of the Washington Post won the Pulitzer for public service for its reconstruction of the January 6 attack. A group of Getty Images photographers won the breaking news photography prize for images from that day.
The New York Times, which often wins multiple Pulitzers each year, won in the national reporting and international reporting categories, and Salamishah Tillet, contributing critic at large for The Times, won the criticism prize.
The judges continued a multi-year effort to incorporate new types of news outlets and storytelling. A team from Insider won the illustrated Pulitzer reporting for a comic titled “How I escaped a Chinese internment camp.”
“This is a historic win for our newsroom and company,” Insider global editor in chief Nicholas Carlson said in a memo to staffers, noting that just a few other digital-only outlets (like BuzzFeed News, ProPublica, and the Huffington Post) have won to Pulitzer.
Futuro Media and PRX won the audio reporting Pulitzer for “Suave,” a podcast that the judges called “a brutally honest and immersive profile of a man reentering society after serving more than 30 years in prison.”
Madison Hopkins of the Better Government Association and Cecilia Reyes of the Chicago Tribune won the local reporting prize for a collaboration called “The Failures Before the Fires,” looking at Chicago’s history of failed building and fire safety code enforcement.
Quanta Magazine, an online publication covering physics, math, biology and computer science, won the explanatory Pulitzer for, the judges said, “coverage that revealed the complexities of building the James Webb Space Telescope.”
In many cases these publications beat out higher-profile finalists in their categories.
Marjorie Miller, the new administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, said on a Monday afternoon livestream presentation that “I’ assaultm honored to be the new steward of the Pulitzer Prizes, particularly in this time when truth and facts and books are under increasing.”
“Despite these challenges, or perhaps because of them, we received thousands of entries this year,” Miller said.
At the end of the presentation, she announced a special citation to the journalists of Ukraine “for their courage, endurance and commitment to truthful reporting during Vladimir Putin’s ruthless invasion of their country and his propaganda war in Russia.”