New York, Pulitzer Prizes were awarded to news organisations that uncovered instances of malfeasance and outright fraud in US President Donald Trumps financial past, recognising journalists perseverance in the face of his ever-sharper attacks on a free press.
Among the honours that were announced on Monday, The New York Times received the explanatory reporting prize for an 18-month investigation that revealed how the future President and his relatives avoided paying roughly half a billion dollars’ worth of taxes.
The Times’s examination of Trump’s family finances, by the journalists David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner, drew on tens of thousands of pages of confidential records and previously undisclosed tax returns. The award was the fourth Pulitzer win for Barstow, a record for a reporter.
The Wall Street Journal won the national reporting award for disclosing clandestine payoffs made by the President’s associates before the 2016 election to two women who had alleged affairs with Trump.
The Los Angeles Times won the investigative reporting prize for revealing accusations of sexual abuse against a gynecologist at the University of Southern California.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel won the prize for public service, considered the most prestigious of the Pulitzers, for documenting the massacre of 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018. The paper’s in-depth articles revealed a series of failures by local officials and law enforcement that contributed to the loss of life.
“Feeling overwhelmed and grateful,” a Sun Sentinel reporter, Scott Travis, wrote on Twitter after learning of the honour. “But also sad that we won the greatest journalism award – the Pulitzer – because of a tragedy that never should have happened.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette won for breaking news coverage of a gunman’s spree at the Tree of Life synagogue in October 2018, where 11 people died.
The Pulitzer board also recognised The Capital Gazette of Annapolis, Maryland, where five employees were killed in a shooting last June, with a special citation that included a $100,000 bequest.
Dana Canedy, the awards’ administrator, on Monday cited The Capital Gazette’s “unflagging commitment to covering news at a time of unspeakable grief”.
In honouring The Sun Sentinel, The Post-Gazette and The Capital Gazette, the Pulitzer board underlined the importance of local journalism at a moment when regional papers are struggling to survive.
In the international reporting category, the year’s winners included Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Reuters journalists imprisoned for more than a year in Myanmar. Their reporting, on human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims in the Southeast Asian nation, shared the prize with coverage by The Associated Press of atrocities in Yemen.
First given in 1917, the Pulitzer Prizes are presented annually by Columbia University for excellence in journalism and letters.