In Diverse Pulitzer List, Only 2 Prizes for Iraq Coverage

By: Joe Strupp The Pulitzer Prize Board cast a wide net in its choices for the 89th annual awards, announced Monday, with just two newspapers, The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times, winning more than one award.

(See the complete list of winners and finalists here.)

"The prizes were spread across 13 news organizations, and 27 were among the finalists with an interesting a variety," said Pulitzer Administrator Sig Gissler, just minutes after revealing the winners at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

Winners ranged from the San Francisco Chronicle, for feature photography, to The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., for editorial cartooning. The Boston Globe won for explanatory reporting, The Sacramento Bee won for editorial writing, and even an alternative weekly, The Willamette Week in Portland, Ore., took a prize, with Nigel Jaquiss grabbing the highly competitive investigative-reporting category award.

This is only the fifth time a weekly has won a Pulitzer, with the last such winner being Mark Schoofs of The Village Voice in 2000.

War and weather offered a number of subjects that received notice. Both photography awards went to Iraq-related photos, with the Chronicle's Deanne Fitzmaurice taking the feature photography prize for her photo essay that accompanied the paper's series on an Iraqi boy nearly killed by an explosion.

The award for breaking news photo went to the Associated Press staff, which won for a series of 20 pictures about Iraq War-related tragedies. In all, six Pulitzer winners and finalists were recognized for coverage of the war, but the two photo awards were the only Iraq-related winners.

"The war in Iraq seemed less present this year," Gissler noted. "Possibly because of limitations on the press [in Iraq]."

The international-reporting category was the only one to split the award, with Newsday's Dele Olojede and the Los Angeles Times' Kim Murphy sharing the honor for their reporting on Rwanda and Russia, respectively. Gissler noted that it was only the sixth time since 1959, when the category was instituted, that it had multiple winners. He pointed out that in 1959 six news organizations shared the honor, all for coverage of the Korean War.

On the weather front, six winners and finalists took accolades for bringing insight into hurricanes, tornadoes, and the tsunami, including Julia Keller of the Chicago Tribune, whose account of a 10-second tornado in nearby Utica, Ill., captured the feature writing prize.

Both the Willamette Week and The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., took prizes for reporting on governors' downfalls. Willamette Week's investigative award came about for its revelations on the past sexual misconduct of former governor Neil Goldschmidt, while The Star-Ledger received the breaking news prize for reporting on former Gov. James McGreevey's announcement that he was gay and had had an affair with a male subordinate.

"It is notable how many winners went after malfeasances," Gissler added. Those would include the Los Angeles Times' public-service prize for exposing problems at a local hospital and Walt Bogdanich of The New York Times, who won for his reporting on the corporate cover-up of fatal railway accidents, which won the national reporting award.

Some repeat winners also appeared. Bogdanich's prize marks his second Pulitzer, his first won in 1988 at The Wall Street Journal for coverage of substandard medical laboratories.

Then there is Steve Coll, associate editor at The Washington Post, who had previously won for explanatory reporting in 1990. But this year, you won't find him in the journalism category. His prize this time: the general non-fiction book award for "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001."

The number of Pulitzer Prize journalism entries was down this year, Gissler said, with 1,326 entries for work done in 2004, almost 100 fewer than the 1,423 the previous year.


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