Pulitzer Prizes

By Jerilyn WatsonEvery year, Pulitzer Prizes are given for the best newspaper reporting, books, drama and music in the United States. The awards for this year were announced two weeks ago. I'm Sarah Long.And I'm Shirley Griffith. We tell about the Pulitzer Prize winners in our report today on the VOA Special English Program, THIS IS AMERICA.

Columbia University in New York City has awarded the Pulitzer Prizes every year since Nineteen-Seventeen. The newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer established the prize. Joseph 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. Then he began buying newspaper companies.

In Eighteen-Eighty-Three, Joseph Pulitzer bought the New York World. He soon changed it into one of the most important newspapers in the United States. It sold more copies than any other newspaper in the country.Mr. Pulitzer became very rich. He left two-million dollars to Columbia University when he died in Nineteen-Eleven. Part of the money was to establish a graduate school of journalism to train reporters. The rest of the money was to be used as prizes for the best writing in the United States.

This year, Columbia University gave fifteen awards for excellence in journalism. The judges also honored seven people for their work in the arts. They included four writers of books, a poet, a playwright and a musician.The New York Times newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes for national reporting. One prize recognized a series of stories called "How Race is Lived in America." More than thirty editors, writers and photographers prepared fifteen stories. The reporters asked many Americans about their experiences and thoughts about race. The newspaper published a special issue of its Sunday magazine on the subject. It also developed a Website so readers could share their opinions.

New York Times business reporter David Cay Johnston also won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting. His stories told how some companies use illegal methods to avoid paying income taxes. He also wrote that the government is more likely to investigate poor taxpayers than rich ones.The Chicago Tribune in Illinois also won two Pulitzer Prizes. One of the awards recognized the best reporting that explains issues or events. This series of stories told about problems with airplane traffic, especially at Chicago's O'Hare international airport. Sixty reporters worked to explain what is wrong with the air traffic system.

Chicago Tribune writer Paul Salopek was honored for international reporting. He wrote about war and sickness in Congo. Mr. Salopek traveled down the Congo River in a small boat to report events in the central African nation.Columbia University also gave two awards to the Wall Street Journal. Ian Johnson won for international reporting. Mr. Johnson wrote about Chinese government oppression of members of the Falun Gong spiritural group. Wall Street Journal reporter Dorothy Rabinowitz won a prize for her opinions, called commentaries. She wrote about a doctor and other people falsely accused of sexual wrongdoing.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))The Oregonian newspaper in Portland, Oregon won the Pulitzer Prize for public service. Its reporters wrote about problems in the federal government's Immigration and Naturalization Service. This agency supervises people who move to the United States from other countries. It also deals with people who come here illegally.

The newspaper reported that the agency puts young people in jail who are suspected of illegally entering the country. Sometimes they are jailed along with people found guilty of murder.

Reporter Tom Hallman of the Oregonian won a Pulitzer Prize for excellence in feature writing. He wrote about a teen-age boy with an abnormal facial structure. The boy risked his life to have an operation in hopes of appearing more normal.The Miami Herald newspaper in Florida won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting a news event as it was happening. The newspaper reported about a raid by federal agents last April. The agents forcibly removed a six-year-old Cuban boy from the home of family members in Miami. Elian Gonzalez had been rescued at sea after his mother drowned trying to reach the United States. The federal raid led to Elian's return to Cuba.

Most Cuban-Americans in Miami wanted Elian to stay in the United States. But most other people in the city thought the child should be returned to his father in Cuba. A Miami Herald editor said this made it difficult to tell the story. But he said his reporters worked hard to report it fairly.This story also brought honors to photographer Alan Diaz of the Associated Press. Mr. Diaz won the Pulitzer Prize for a picture of a news event. His picture showed the armed federal agent preparing to seize Elian Gonzalez. This famous picture appeared in many newspapers throughout the world.

Matt Rainey of The Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey, also won a photography award. His pictures showed two students who were severely burned in a fire at their university. The photographs tell the story of their care and recovery.David Willman of the Los Angeles Times in California won the Pulitzer Prize for the best investigative reporting. He reported about seven unsafe drugs approved by the government. Mr. Willman said these drugs may have been linked to more than one-thousand deaths.

Ann Telnaes of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate won a prize for editorial cartoons. These drawings make a political or social statement. Her cartoon was about questionable campaign gifts for political candidates.

Editorials are the opinions of newspapers. David Moats won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. He works for the Rutland Herald in Rutland, Vermont. His editorials supported a state law permitting civil marriage by people of the same sex. Mr. Moats said his opinions angered some of his readers.

Gail Caldwell of the Boston Globe in Massachusetts won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. Ms. Caldwell is the chief book critic of the newspaper. She was honored for her observations about American life and writing.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))Michael Chabon (CHAY-bahn) won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. His award-winning novel is called "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay." It is the story of two young men who create heroes for comic books. The novel begins in Nineteen-Thirty-Nine when war was threatening the world.

Historian Herbert P. Bix won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. His book is called "Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan."It disputes the idea that Japanese Emperor Hirohito had little influence over the military in the Nineteen-Thirties and Nineteen-Forties. Mr. Bix says Hirohito helped prepare Japan for World War Two.Joseph J. Ellis won the Pulitzer Prize for history. He wrote about the early years of America in "Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation."Mr. Ellis re-creates the struggles and crises of the men who established the United States.

Historian David Levering Lewis won the prize for biography, a book about someone's life. He wrote "W-E-B DuBois (Do-BOYS): The Fight for Equality and the American Century, Nineteen-Nineteen to Nineteen-Sixty-Three."Mr. DuBois was one of the leaders of the American civil rights movement.Stephen Dunn won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. He was honored for his collection called "Different Hours." Mr. Dunn sometimes is called the poet of middle-class life. His work celebrates marriage, teen-age children and community life.

David Auburn won the drama prize for his play "Proof." It tells about a young woman dealing with the death of her father. He was a famous mathematics expert who became insane.

Composer John Corigliano (Coh-reel-YAH-no) won the Pulitzer Prize for music. The Pulitzer committee honored him for his "Symphony Number Two for String Orchestra." He also is known for his music for voice and small orchestras.

We leave you now with music that Mr. Corigliano wrote for the film "The Red Violin."

((INSTEAD OF THEME, MUSIC FROM "THE RED VIOLIN" ))This program was written by Jerilyn Watson. It was produced by Cynthia Kirk. I'm Shirley Griffith.And I'm Sarah Long. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.