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Pulitzer Prizes

Each year, Pulitzer Prizes are given for the best American newspaper reporting. They are also given for books, drama, poetry and music. This year's winners were announced earlier this month. I'm Phoebe Zimmerman. And I'm Steve Ember, with the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.

Columbia University in New York City has awarded Pulitzer Prizes since nineteen-seventeen. The newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer established the prize. Mr. Pulitzer was born in Hungary in eighteen-forty-seven. He moved to the United States and settled in Saint Louis, Missouri. He became a newspaper reporter.

In eighteen-eighty-three, Joseph Pulitzer bought the New York World. Soon it sold more copies than any other newspaper in the country.

Mr. Pulitzer died in nineteen-eleven. He left two-million dollars to Columbia University. Part of this money was to establish a graduate school of journalism to train reporters. He wanted the rest of the money to be used as prizes for the best writing in the United States.

This year, Columbia University gave fourteen awards to newspapers and reporters for excellence in journalism during two-thousand-two. The judges -- including journalists and professors from around the country -- also honored seven people for their work in the arts.

Six of the largest daily newspapers in the United States won most of the journalism awards. Two of these newspapers -- the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post -- won three Pulitzer prizes each.

Last year, many Pulitzer awards went to reports about the terrorist attacks of September eleventh, two-thousand-one. Others honored the American-led war that followed in Afghanistan.

Winners this year dealt with a number of different subjects.

Alan Miller and Kevin Sack of the Los Angeles Times, in California, won the prize for national reporting. They wrote a four-part series about a military airplane that takes off and lands like a helicopter. Forty-five Marine pilots have died in crashes of this kind of plane, called the Harrier.

Congress launched an investigation of the safety of this plane after the series appeared.

The two other winners at the Los Angeles Times were a feature writer and a photographer. Sonia Nazario wrote about the travels of a boy from Honduras. The child was searching for his mother in the United States. Don Bartletti photographed young people from Central America as they traveled north. He followed them through many dangers as they tried to enter the United States illegally.

A husband and wife who report together from Mexico City won the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan work for the Washington Post. They risked their lives to get information for a series of reports about conditions in the Mexican criminal justice system.

Colbert King of the Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Mr. King says he tries to speak for the young, the poor and minority groups who feel they lack power in the city.

Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post won the Pulitzer for criticism. He writes about films. He is known for his strong opinions. Mr. Hunter is the first movie critic to win the prize in criticism since nineteen-seventy-five.

The Boston Globe in Massachusetts won the public-service award for its reports about sexual abuse by local Roman Catholic clergymen. The stories in the Globe showed that church leaders had done nothing to stop crimes against children and other church members. In the end, the top leader for the area, Cardinal Bernard Law, resigned.

Another newspaper in Massachusetts, this one published in the small city of Lawrence, also won a Pulitzer. The Eagle-Tribune won for its skill in reporting on the drowning of four boys in a river. The prize for breaking news recognizes work done as an event happens.

Cornelia Grumman of the Chicago Tribune won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. The judges honored what they described as her "powerful" opinion writing against death sentences in Illinois. Earlier this month, the Illinois legislature approved measures designed to reform -- but not end -- the death-penalty system in that state.

Another Pulitzer Prize winner in journalism was Diana Sugg [suhg] of the Baltimore Sun in Maryland. She received the award for reporting about a special area of public interest. Ms. Sugg is a medical writer. The judges honored her reporting about the human side of modern health care as well as its technology. One of her most memorable stories told about family members who stayed with dying loved ones in hospital emergency rooms.

The Wall Street Journal won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. The Journal was honored for its efforts to explain the recent failures of major American companies such as the energy trader Enron.

Clifford Levy [LEE-vee] of the New York Times earned the Pulitzer for his investigative reporting. He wrote a series of stories about conditions for thousands of the mentally sick. They live in adult homes supervised by the state of New York. Some of these people had died, and Mr. Levy wanted to find out why. He discovered that poorly prepared workers acted as caretakers. He also discovered financial wrongdoing in the program.

Out West, dramatic pictures of forest fires earned a Pulitzer for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado. Wildfires struck the state last spring and summer. And, in the Northwest, David Horsey [HOR-see] of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in Washington state was honored for his editorial cartoons. He received his second Pulitzer Prize in four years.

Among the prizes awarded in the arts, one went to a writer who has currently been reporting on the war in Iraq for the Washington Post. Rich Atkinson won the prize for a history book that he wrote about World War Two. It is called "An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942 (through) 1943." It tells about Allied victories over the Germans in North Africa. Mr. Atkinson writes that these victories helped the United States become a major military power.

Another author, Samantha Power, won a Pulitzer Prize for her book called "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide." Her work criticizes the American response to events that have taken place since the Holocaust in World War Two. Her experience includes reporting in nineteen-ninety-three on the war in Bosnia.

Robert Caro [CA- (like in cat) roh] won a Pulitzer Prize for his third book about former President Lyndon Johnson. The book "Master of the Senate" tells about Johnson while he served as a senator and Senate majority leader. Mr. Caro also won a Pulitzer Prize in nineteen-seventy-five.

The Pulitzer for poetry went to Paul Muldoon for his ninth collection. Mr. Muldoon was born in Northern Ireland, near the village of Moy. His prize-winning book is called "Moy Sand and Gravel." He teaches creative writing at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey.

Jeffrey Eugenides [eu-JEH-ni-dees] won the fiction award for his novel "Middlesex," about a Greek family over a period of many years. One of the characters, a girl, discovers at the age of fourteen that she may be a boy. This is the third novel by Mr. Eugenides.

Nilo Cruz won the Pulitzer for drama for his play "Anna in the Tropics." It takes place in a little town in the state of Florida in nineteen-twenty-nine. Many of the townspeople work in a cigar factory. The workers are threatened with the loss of their traditions. Mr. Cruz was born in Cuba. He teaches at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Among the Pulitzer Prizes awarded this year, one was directly related to the September eleventh attacks on New York and Washington.

A musical piece that honors the three-thousand people killed in the World Trade Center earned a Pulitzer for composer John Adams. The piece is called "On the Transmigration of Souls." It mixes a reading of victims' names with orchestral music and the voices of children and adults. The piece, however, has not been released commercially.

This VOA Special English program was written by Jerilyn Watson and produced by Cynthia Kirk. I'm Phoebe Zimmermann. And I'm Steve Ember. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA.


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