Details on the 2012 Pulitzer Prize winners

Source : AP
Last Updated: Tue, Apr 17, 2012 00:16 hrs

Details on the winners of the 2012 Pulitzer Prizes:


In a series of stories, AP reporters Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley showed how the New York Police Department, with help from a CIA official, created a surveillance program to monitor law-abiding Muslims in settings that ranged from cafes to college campuses. Individuals and groups were monitored even when there was no evidence they were linked to terrorism or crime.

"We kept reporting things that no one in the city of New York knew about," said AP's executive editor, Kathleen Carroll. "That's what I'm most proud of."

The series, which began in August, prompted protests, a demand from 34 members of Congress for a federal investigation and an internal inquiry by the CIA's inspector general.

"We came under relentless attack," Goldman told colleagues. "Some people thought they could intimidate us and the AP — and they were wrong."


PUBLIC SERVICE: The Philadelphia Inquirer.

A five-reporter team was honored for a series called "Assault on Learning" that revealed widespread and unreported violence in the city schools. The series found that there were 30,000 serious incidents in the previous five years.

Reporters John Sullivan, Susan Snyder, Kristen A. Graham, Dylan Purcell and Jeff Gammage spent a year conducting more than 300 interviews with teachers, administrators, students, families and police and court officials.

The series began after racial violence broke out among students at South Philadelphia High School in December 2009. The findings were corroborated by a schools panel and resulted in an overhaul of incident reporting in the district.

"For us, it just kept coming back to the kids, the victims," Graham said.


BREAKING NEWS REPORTING: The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News.

The newspaper staff won for its coverage of a deadly tornado that barreled through the city shortly after reporters had received training in how to use social media for news coverage.

"Within seconds of when the tornado hit, our staff was out tweeting," City Editor Katherine Lee said. "At first, it was just 'bodies on streets, buildings gone, an intersection gone.'"

The newspaper also used traditional reporting to provide real-time updates, help locate missing people and produce in-depth accounts, despite a power disruption in the newsroom.

"I think we won because the tornado hit where we live, and we all felt a responsibility to do this well, to tell our story well — about how people came together to help total strangers," Lee said.



Reporters Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong delved into the deadly consequences of Washington state's embrace of methadone as a top option for treating chronic-pain patients with state-subsidized health care. Their series found that more than 2,100 people had died of accidental methadone overdoses since 2003, while the state had brushed off warnings about the drug's risks and declared it was safe.

"Not only is this wrong, but this is incredibly tragic," Berens said.

In response to the series, the state declared that methadone was no longer a preferred painkiller. Instead, doctors and patients were told it should be a last resort.

Winning the Pulitzer is "incredibly humbling," Berens said. "And I'm honored at the same time. You have these two emotions hitting you."


EXPLANATORY REPORTING: David Kocieniewski, The New York Times.

Kocieniewski, a business reporter, devoted a year to examining and exposing the obscure provisions that businesses and the wealthiest Americans use to drive down their tax bills. His work drew accolades from conservative groups such as the tea party and the Tax Foundation, as well as more liberal groups such as Wealth for the Common Good, the Sunlight Foundation and Public Citizen.


LOCAL REPORTING: The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.

The newspaper — and especially reporter Sara Ganim — were honored for breaking the Penn State sexual abuse scandal that ultimately brought down football coach Joe Paterno, one of the sport's most revered figures.

During the investigation, Ganim said, the staff stayed "focused on following the facts, and not thinking about what the consequences might be, which I think is actually a good thing because we weren't distracted and we were able to see the whole picture."

Their efforts led to a nationwide discussion about big-time sports operations on college campuses.

Ganim called the award a win for everyone in every newsroom "just like ours all across the country."

"The most rewarding thing through this whole process has been people telling me that this story and our coverage has changed their minds about local reporting," she said.



The news site won its first Pulitzer for military correspondent David Wood's series on the experiences of catastrophically wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wood, who has covered war and military issues since the 1970s, looked at the soldiers' physical and emotional struggles, as well as how their families, communities, comrades and doctors responded.

Wood's stories, which began running in October, introduced readers to many people, including a soldier who lost both of his legs and an arm to an IED blast but has gone onto a new marriage and a mother who has spent the last several years feeding, clothing and bathing her wounded son.

"From the beginning, one of the core pillars of The Huffington Post's editorial philosophy has been to use narrative and storytelling to put flesh and blood on data and statistics, and to help bear witness to the struggles millions of Americans face," said Mario Ruiz of HPMG Media Relations in a statement.

"We thank the Pulitzer Committee for recognizing Beyond the Battlefield as a tribute worthy of the men and women whose lives it chronicles — and also for acknowledging that singular, vibrant reporting can thrive on the Web, and indeed, be enhanced by it."


INTERNATIONAL REPORTING: Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times.

Gettleman, the Times' East Africa correspondent, won for his reports on famine and conflict from that country, described by the committee as "a neglected but increasingly strategic part of the world."


FEATURE WRITING: The Stranger, Seattle.

Reporter Eli Sanders said it was "cool that a scrappy little alt-weekly in Seattle can produce something that resonates on this level."

Sanders' haunting story in The Stranger described a 38-year-old woman who survived a brutal attack that took the life of her partner. Sanders used the woman's searing courtroom testimony, which helped send the attacker to prison, and the details of the crime to construct a moving narrative.

Isaiah Kalebu was found guilty last year of aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape and burglary.

"I was stunned at first," Sanders said upon learning he had won. "It's a great, great privilege to work at a paper that will allow someone to hang on to a crime story for so long and to disappear as long as I did at a trial," Sanders said. "The fact that I was able to do this piece at all was a credit to how much time the Stranger was willing to give."


COMMENTARY: Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune:

Schmich's topics ranged from the conviction of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to the day, at age 10, when she asked her out-of-work father for money to buy something from the ice cream man.

"I try to write a column that speaks to a wide variety of people about the wide variety of things that ordinary people care about," she said Monday. "Sometimes it is about people dealing with something personal (or) something in my life that connects with other lives, and sometimes it's about the mood of the city."

Schmich also said she was gratified to win at a time of economic troubles for both the paper where she has been a columnist for about 20 years and the newspaper industry in general.

"I think it just affirms that even in these rocky times, people still do good work," she said.


CRITICISM: Wesley Morris, The Boston Globe.

Morris, a film critic, once worked as a video store clerk. He won for reviews of moves including "The Help," ''Drive," and "Water for Elephants," and an essay in which he dubbed Apple co-founder Steve Jobs "the Ernest Hemingway of technology."

About "The Help," he wrote, "The movie is too pious for farce and too eager to please to comment persuasively on the racial horrors of the Deep South at that time."

Morris said of winning the Pulitzer, "I'm extremely lucky, and honored, and flattered."

Globe editor Martin Baron called Morris' reviews full of energy and penetrating insights.

"He's able to perform gymnastics with words, but he's able to offer words with meaning as well," Baron said.


EDITORIAL CARTOONING: Matt Wuerker of Politico.

Wuerker said he was surprised to win "because my work is a little out of the ordinary in the cartoon world; I'm a 19th-century style cartoonist — I draw with pen, ink and watercolor on paper, old-fashioned paper, while others tend to use computer stuff and other digital media."

However, he added, chuckling, "my cartoons look good when they appear on Facebook."

The judges cited Wuerker's consistently fresh, funny cartoons that lampooned the partisan conflict engulfing Washington.

"I was floored, I was absolutely floored," he said. "It's such an over-the-horizon cartoonist fantasy."

It's the first Pulitzer for Politico, the 5-year-old newspaper and website about Washington politics that was launched by two former Washington Post reporters.

Editor-in-chief John Harris says Wuerker's cartoons are in Politico's spirit because "he takes raw delight in politics." Politico's first Pulitzer "means a lot to the whole publication."


BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY: Massoud Hossaini of Agence France-Presse.

The prize was for Hossaini's heartbreaking image of a girl crying among a pile of dead bodies after a suicide bomber's attack at a crowded shrine in Kabul.

"Well, first of all I should say that I'm so happy and excited to be the first Afghan to win a Pulitzer," said Hossaini. "I cannot sleep even. Also, I'm humbled to be an Afghan who can be a voice for the painful life and moments which people have here. I know that whoever sees this photo will think about the photographer but I hope they don't forget the pain Afghanistan's people have in their life."

Hossaini was just yards away when the bomb went off on Dec. 6, 2011, killing at least 70 people.

AFP chief executive Emmanuel Hoog said Hossaini is "one of our bravest and best photo-journalists."


FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY: Craig F. Walker of The Denver Post.

Walker chronicled Colorado resident Scott Ostrom's struggles with severe post-traumatic stress disorder after four years as a Marine Corps reconnaissance man and two deployments to Iraq. Ostrom was honorably discharged in 2007.

"Scott Ostrom is the one who deserves the credit on this one," Walker said. "He shared an amazing story with us, and I was honored to be part of it."

"This is a great day for The Post," Post Editor Gregory L. Moore said Monday.

Walker also won the 2010 Pulitzer for feature photography for "Ian Fisher: American Soldier." Over 27 months, Walker photographed Fisher as he went from high school graduate to Army recruit to soldier. He chronicled Fisher's deployment to Iraq and his return home from combat.


DRAMA: Quiara Alegria Hudes' play "Water by the Spoonful."

In the drama, a soldier returns from war to Philadelphia and struggles to put aside the images that haunt him while his mother, a recovering addict, battles her own demons. It has characters from all around the world because much of it is set in an Internet chat room.

"As I was writing this play, I felt more at home than ever," she said. "I am myself of a mixed background. I'm half Puerto Rican and half Jewish and so, in some ways, living in many worlds at once is where I feel most at home."

Hudes, 34, previously wrote the book for the Broadway show "In the Heights," which won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2008. Her play "Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue" was a Pulitzer finalist in 2007.

She is currently teaching a playwriting workshop at Wesleyan University and found out she's won the Pulitzer while checking her phone during a class break. Hudes says she yelped and some of her students asked her what was wrong.

"I think I looked like the blood had drained from my face," she said. "They said, 'Is everything OK?' I said, 'Yes,' and they all applauded."


HISTORY: "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention," by Malcolm Marable.

A top scholar for nearly 20 years at Columbia University, Marable had considered his biography of Malcolm X the summation of a proud career. But he never lived to witness his achievement. Marable died suddenly, at age 60, on the eve of the book's publication. Reviews were highly favorable, although some of Malcolm X's daughters objected to the troubled portrait of his marriage. The book also led to renewed calls for an investigation into the death of Malcolm X, who was assassinated in 1965.

Marable's other books included "Beyond Black and White" and "Let Nobody Turn Us Around." A native of Dayton, Ohio, he was an undergraduate at Earlham College, received a master's from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate from the University of Maryland.


BIOGRAPHY: "George F. Kennan: An American Life," by John Lewis Gaddis.

Gaddis' nearly 800-page biography of the founding Cold War strategist took nearly 30 years to finish. Kennan agreed in the early 1980s to cooperate with the book, but gave one condition: Nothing could be published until he died. He was in his 70s at the time, and lived to 101.

Gaddis, a professor at Yale University, has long been regarded as a top Cold War scholar and was seen as a natural choice to write about Kennan. He won the prestigious Bancroft Prize in in 1972 for "The United States and the Origins of the Cold War." ''George F. Kennan" had already won a $50,000 prize from the New York Historical Society and a National Book Critics Circle award for biography.

Gaddis grew up in Cotulla, Texas, and is a graduate of the University of Texas, in Austin. His other books include "The Cold War: A New History" and "We Now Know."


GENERAL NONFICTION: "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern" by Stephen Greenblatt.

Greenblatt, a professor of humanities at Harvard University who also wrote the 2004 best-selling biography of Shakespeare "Will in the World," won for a book that focuses on events 600 years ago.

It tells the story of Poggio Bracciolini, the former apostolic secretary to several popes, who became perhaps the greatest book hunter of the Renaissance. His most significant find, located in a German monastery, was a copy of Lucretius' "On the Nature of Things," which had been lost to history for more than a thousand years.

"This poem changed my life. But it also turned out to change all of our lives even though there's no reason you or anyone else should have heard of it," said Greenblatt, a Renaissance specialist who last fall won the National Book Award.


MUSIC: "Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts," by Kevin Puts, commissioned and premiered by the Minnesota Opera.

Puts said that when The Associated Press called to tell him he had won, "I said to my wife, 'Maybe they're calling me to tell me I won the Pulitzer Prize.' And she looked at me like I was crazy."

"Silent Night" was Puts' debut in the world of opera after creating a sizable body of works for orchestra, including four symphonies and several concertos.

"I spent more time on it than any other piece," he said. "When I was composing it, I felt like it was in some ways easier than anything I've ever written. It just felt natural for me, my first opera."


POETRY: "Life on Mars" by Tracy K. Smith.

Smith, an author and an assistant professor of creative writing at Princeton University, wrote this latest poetry collection while pregnant in Brooklyn and remembering her recently passed father.

"This was a book that felt really important to me as I was writing it because on one level I was processing my private grief," said Smith. "So I was thinking about what I wanted to imagine for myself and the scenario (my father) had now become a part of."

In "Life on Mars," Smith's third poetry collection following "Body's Question" and "Duende," she explores those ideas and feelings through science-fiction and the cosmos. The interplanetary language and imagery dovetailed with her father, who worked on the Hubble Telescope.

"I really believe that writing is such a private and selfish act," Smith said. "I was finding a language and a set of metaphors with which to flesh out some of my own preoccupations."


Associated Press writers JoAnn Loviglio in Philadelphia, Verena Dobnik, Jake Coyle, Hillel Italie and Mark Kennedy in New York, Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pa., Chris Grygiel in Seattle, Ben Nuckols in Washington and Don Babwin in Chicago contributed to this report.

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