By: Joe Strupp

2001 Awards Announced

Coverage of the Elian Gonzalez saga garnered two Pulitzer Prizes as the annual awards were announced Monday afternoon at Columbia University. The Miami Herald won top prize in the breaking news category for its overall Elian coverage and Associated Press photographer Alan Diaz took the spot news photography award for his now-famous shot of federal agents seizing Gonzalez at gunpoint.

In most other categories, double winners were the order of the day as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Oregonian, and Chicago Tribune garnered two Pulitzers each for coverage of everything from prescription drugs to air traffic control problems.

For the second year in a row, a conservative columnist from The Wall Street Journal took the Pulitzer for commentary as Dorothy Rabinowitz won the award, which last year went to fellow Journal columnist Paul Gigot.

The 19-member Pulitzer Board, which chooses from among three finalists recommended by nominating committees in each of the 14 categories, took the unusual step of dismissing the three commentary finalists and asking the committee for another nomination, according to Pulitzer Administrator Seymour Topping. He said the committee then recommended Rabinowitz, whom the board chose as the winner.

“It is a rare occurrence,” Topping said as he explained the move. “The work of the three finalists was truly outstanding. Nevertheless, at times and in this case, the board decided it wanted a broader choice.”

The three commentary finalists passed over in favor of Rabinowitz included Karen Heller and Trudy Rubin of The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Derrick Z. Jackson of The Boston Globe. The last time the board chose a winner that was not a finalist was in 1998 when Stephen P. Breen of the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press won for editorial cartooning.

Another rare occurrence took place this year with a split award in the international reporting category, which went to Ian Johnson of The Wall Street Journal for reporting on Chinese suppression of the Falun Gong movement and Paul Salopek of the Chicago Tribune, who won his second Pulitzer for reporting on political strife and disease ravaging Africa. The international reporting category had not had a double-winner since 1993.

The New York Times added to its long list of Pulitzers with the national reporting award for its highly-touted series on race and the beat reporting award to staff writer David Cay Johnston for exposing loopholes and other problems in the U.S. tax code.

Tom Hallman, Jr. of The Oregonian won for feature writing with his profile of a disfigured 14-year-old boy’s struggle to improve his appearance through a life-threatening operation. The Oregonian also took home the public service award for its investigation of problems in the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

David Willman of the Los Angeles Times won that paper’s only prize this year with the investigative reporting award for “an expose of seven unsafe prescription drugs that had been approved by the FDA.” A profile of problems in the air traffic control system, labeled “Gateway to Gridlock” won the explanatory prize for the Chicago Tribune.

Other editorial awards included: Gail Caldwell of The Boston Globe for criticism, David Moats of the Rutland (Vt.) Herald for editorial writing, and Ann Telnaes of The Los Angeles Times syndicate for editorial cartooning. Matt Rainey of the Star-Ledger of New Jersey won the feature photography award for his shot of two students recovering from burns suffered in the Seton Hall University fire.

The cash prize for each winner, excluding the public service award, was increased this year from the previous $5,000 to $7,500.

For a complete list of winners, visit Pulitzer.org.

Joe Strupp (jstrupp@editorandpublisher.com) is an associate editor for E&P.

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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