Winners of the most prestigious awards in U.S. print journalism, the Pulitzer prizes, were announced in New York today. Reporters for the Los Angeles Times and Newsday share the international reporting award for their coverage of Russia and Rwanda as those nations cope with the past and try to move forward. From VOA's New York Bureau, Seema Kalia has the details.
The Pulitzer Committee cited Dele Olojede (O-low-jetty) of the suburban New York newspaper Newsday for his reporting on Rwanda a decade after genocide ravaged the nation. Mr. Olojede shared the international reporting award with Los Angeles Times' reporter Kim Murphy for her coverage of Russia's struggles with terrorism, the economy and democracy. Sig Gissler, the awards administrator, said it was only the sixth time that the board gave the award for international reporting to two journalists.
"This year, I think you see the two examples, one where the coverage is of Russia, including the problems in Chechnya, and the other, by Olojede, was revisiting Rwanda by 10 years after the bloodbath. So they're two different kinds of international coverage and I think the board felt they were both very excellent, and so they, this time decided to award two prizes for international coverage."
Mr. Gissler noted the decline in coverage of the Iraq war among the submissions, and of the overall value of international news coverage for Americans.
"The importance of the international reporting award is to honor courageous and effective coverage of our planet. Often under great, great personal risk. And to encourage stories that will give American newspaper readers full in-depth understanding of what's going on in this world."
The Los Angeles Times also won the public service award for exposing deadly medical problems and racial injustice at a major public hospital.
New York Times business reporter Walt Bogdanich won the national reporting award for a series exposing a corporate cover up of fatal accidents at railroad crossings. He won a Pulitzer in 1988 while working for the Wall Street Journal.
But several local newspapers beat big competitors for some of the top prizes this year with stories of sexual scandals. The Newark, New Jersey Star Ledger won the prize for breaking news for its coverage of the resignation of New Jersey's governor after his announcement that he was homosexual and had had an adulterous affair with a male lover. And a reporter for The Willamette Week, a local Oregon publication, won the coveted investigative reporting prize for reports of a former governor's sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl.
The Associated Press received the breaking news photography award for what the Pulitzer Committee called its "stunning series of photographs of bloody yearlong combat inside Iraqi cities.
The Pulitzer committee also gives out prizes in the arts. This year playwright John Patrick Shanley took home top honors in drama for his play "Doubt," about a nun who suspects a priest of molesting children.
All of the prizes are worth 10-thousand dollars except for the public service award, a gold medal. Columbia University administers the awards for the Pulitzer Committee.