Criminal Justice Journalism Wins Pulitzer Prizes

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Stories on mass shootings and other criminal justice subjects were named winners in several Pulitzer Prize categories announced Monday by Columbia University.

The prestigious public service prize was won by the South Florida Sun Sentinel “for exposing failings by school and law enforcement officials before and after the deadly shooting rampage” at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette won the breaking news reporting award “for immersive, compassionate coverage of the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue that captured the anguish and resilience of a community thrust into grief.”

The Pulitzer Prize Board gave a special citation to honor the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., for its “courageous response to the largest killing of journalists in U.S. history in their newsroom on June 28, 2018, and for demonstrating unflagging commitment to covering the news and serving their community at a time of unspeakable grief.” The citation comes with a $100,000 bequest to the newspaper.

Hannah Dreier of ProPublica won a feature writing award for a series of “powerful, intimate narratives that followed Salvadoran immigrants on New York’s Long Island whose lives were shattered by a botched federal crackdown on the international criminal gang MS-13.” The same series won a John Jay Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award in February.

The local reporting award went to The Advocate of Baton Rouge, La. for a “damning portrayal of the state’s discriminatory conviction system, including a Jim Crow-era law, that enabled Louisiana courts to send defendants to jail without jury consensus on the accused’s guilt.”

The Wall Street Journal won a national reporting prize for “uncovering President Trump’s secret payoffs to two women during his campaign who claimed to have had affairs with him, and the web of supporters who facilitated the transactions, triggering criminal inquiries and calls for impeachment.”

A commentary award went to Tony Messenger of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for “bold columns that exposed the malfeasance and injustice of forcing poor rural Missourians charged with misdemeanor crimes to pay unaffordable fines or be sent to jail.”

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