April 20, 2009 / 7:24 PM / 8 years ago

NY Times dominates 2009 Pulitzer Prize contest

<p>A handout photo taken by New York Times photographer Damon Winter of Barack Obama in the rain during his campaign that won a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography announced by the Pulitzer Prize Board in New York.Damon Winter/New York Times/Handout</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Times dominated the Pulitzer Prizes announced on Monday, winning five of the coveted awards for investigative, breaking news and international reporting, feature photography and criticism.

The Las Vegas Sun won the most prestigious Public Service Prize for reporting on the high death rate among construction workers on the Las Vegas strip, according to the board of the Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism, Letters, Drama and Music.

The strength of the prize winners' work shows the power and significance of print journalism, said Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzers.

Newspapers are suffering badly in the recession, with massive job losses, elimination of sections and cancellation of home delivery. A few have ceased publication, slashed salaries and filed for bankruptcy.

"The watchdog still barks. The watchdog still bites," Gissler said. "Who would be doing this day to day if we didn't have newspapers?"

None of the prizes went to stories about the economy or the financial crisis.

The Wall Street Journal, one of the nation's most prestigious daily papers, did not win a prize this year.

The paper has not won a Pulitzer since Rupert Murdoch bought it through News Corp's purchase of Dow Jones & Co in December 2007. In the previous 10 years, the Journal won Pulitzers in all but two years.

This marked the first year that entries from news organizations that publish entirely on the Internet could compete in the journalism categories.

Despite the growth of online journalism, there were no online winners and only Politico.com, a largely online outlet, was a finalist in editorial cartooning, said Gissler. The editorial cartooning prize went to Steve Breen of The San Diego Union Tribune.

The New York Times staff won the breaking news reporting award for coverage of a sex scandal that led to the resignation of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and international reporting for coverage of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan under dangerous conditions.

The Times won for investigative reporting by David Barstow on retired U.S. generals who were working as media analysts and co-opted by the Pentagon to defend the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

PICTURES OF OBAMA CAMPAIGN

The feature photography prize went to the Times' Damon Winter for pictures of Barack Obama's presidential campaign and the criticism prize went to Times' art critic Holland Cotter.

The record number of Pulitzers won in any year was the Times, which won seven in 2002.

<p>Writer Lynn Nottage, author of the play "Ruined", celebrates winning the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama in New York, April 20, 2009.Lucas Jackson</p>

The Los Angeles Times won for explanatory reporting on the cost and effectiveness of attempts to combat wildfires across the western United States.

Local reporting was a tie between the Detroit Free Press for uncovering lies by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, including denial of a sexual relationship with his female chief of staff, that led to jail terms for the two officials, and the East Valley Tribune of Mesa, Arizona, for showing how a focus on immigration enforcement endangered public safety.

National reporting went to the St. Petersburg Times for PolitiFact, a fact-checking initiative in the presidential campaign that examined more than 750 political claims.

Lane DeGregory of the St. Petersburg Times won the feature writing award for the story of a neglected little girl found in a roach-infested room, unable to talk or feed herself, who was adopted by a new family.

The award for breaking news photography went to Patrick Farrell of The Miami Herald for coverage of damage and despair caused by Hurricane Ike and other storms in Haiti.

Slideshow (27 Images)

The commentary prize went to Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post for writings on the presidential campaign.

The editorial writing prize went to Mark Mahoney of The Post-Star in Glens Falls, New York, for writing about the dangers of local government secrecy.

NON-NEWS CATEGORIES

The fiction prize went to "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout of stories from coastal Maine.

The history prize went to "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family" by Annette Gordon-Reed, which won a U.S. National Book Award in 2008. It tells the story of a slave family with ties to President Thomas Jefferson.

The drama prize went to playwright Lynn Nottage, who explored rape as a weapon of war in "Ruined," set in a Congolese brothel.

The prize for biography went to "American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House" by Jon Meacham, and the general nonfiction prize went to "Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II" by Douglas A. Blackmon.

The poetry prize went to "The Shadow of Sirius" by W.S. Merwin and the music prize went to "Double Sextet" by Steve Reich.

There were 1,028 entries submitted, down slightly from the previous year's 1,167 entries for the prizes honoring the best in U.S. print journalism.

Details of the awards are at www.pulitzer.org

Reporting by Robert MacMillan, writing by Ellen Wulfhorst; editing by Philip Barbara and Andre Grenon

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