Pulitzer Prizes

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I’m Faith Lapidus.

And I’m Doug Johnson. Today we tell about the Pulitzer Prizes. These important yearly awards honor the best in American newspaper reporting, books and the arts.

Columbia University in New York City has awarded the 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.

Each year, judges from around the country choose the best American journalism. They also recognize the best books, drama, poetry and music. This year's winners were announced two weeks ago. They were honored for work done during two-thousand-three.

Anthony Shadid of the Washington Post newspaper was in Baghdad, Iraq when he heard that he had won a Pulitzer Prize. Mr. Shadid won the international reporting award for his work in Iraq before, during and after the war. The Pulitzer Prize judges praised his ability to describe the conditions and feelings of Iraqis. They noted that he did so while he himself was in danger.

The Los Angeles Times newspaper, in California, won five Pulitzer Prizes. That was the second largest number ever won by a newspaper. The New York Times holds the record for Pulitzer Prizes. It won seven of these awards in two-thousand-two. The awards mainly honored reporting about the attacks against the United States on September eleventh, two-thousand-one.

More than ninety reporters at the Los Angeles Times earned a Pulitzer Prize for timely news reporting. Their stories were about wildfires that struck a large area of southern California last year. The deadly fires caused millions of dollars in damage.

The Los Angeles Times also won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. Four of its reporters wrote about Wal-Mart. This company has become the largest in the world. Its stores sell many kinds of goods at reduced prices. The stories told about Wal-Mart’s effects on American communities and developing nations. Abigail Goldman, Nancy Cleeland, Evelyn Iritani and Tyler Marshall wrote the stories.

Los Angeles Times writer Daniel Neil became the first automobile writer ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. He was honored for his reporting and commentary about cars. Pulitzer officials said Mr. Neil’s stories made interesting observations about human nature and American culture.

William Stall of the Los Angeles Times won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Mr. Stall writes opinion pieces for the newspaper. His work included editorials about the problems of the state government of California. Mr. Stall also proposed possible solutions. His editorials appeared after California voters removed former Governor Gray Davis from office and replaced him with current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Pictures of the war in Liberia earned the feature photography prize for Carolyn Cole of the Los Angeles Times. Mizz Cole’s photographs especially showed the suffering of innocent civilians.

Photography during armed conflict also brought a Pulitzer Prize to David Leeson and Cheryl Diaz Meyer. They work for the Dallas Morning News in Texas. Judges honored them for pictures they took during the war in Iraq. The judges said they succeeded in capturing both the war’s violence and sadness.

The Wall Street Journal newspaper in New York City won two Pulitzer Prizes. The judges honored Wall Street Journal reporters Kevin Helliker and Thomas M. Burton. They won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. They wrote ten stories explaining aneurysms. A problem in a blood vessel wall causes this serious medical condition. Last year, many Americans suffered from aneurysms – including reporter Kevin Helliker. He survived the sometimes deadly problem to write about it.

Education writer Daniel Golden of the Wall Street Journal won the Pulitzer Prize for continued excellent reporting about one subject. Mr. Golden told how some American colleges choose students. He reported that these colleges are more likely to accept students whose parents graduated from the college. He also wrote that the children of people who give money to the colleges are also more likely to be accepted.

The New York Times won the Pulitzer Prize for public service. Reporters David Barstow and Lowell Bergman told of harmful conditions in the nation’s factories. Their stories showed how some employers violated safety rules. The reporters said the employers did not fear punishment for violations that led to deaths and injuries. The newspaper and Times Television cooperated with American and Canadian public television for one series of stories on the subject. It was called “Dangerous Business.” Mr. Bergman wrote a second series called “When Workers Die.”

Three writers for The Blade newspaper in Toledo, Ohio were awarded Pulitzer Prizes for investigative reporting. Mitch Weiss, Michael D. Sallah and Joe Mahr wrote about a United States Army group during the Vietnam War. They produced evidence that some Tiger Force members killed many unarmed civilians during that war.

Leonard Pitts won the commentary prize. He was honored for his stories in the Miami Herald newspaper in Florida. Mr. Pitts wrote about subjects including marriages between people of the same sex and rap music.

Matt Davies of The Journal News in White Plains, New York was honored for his editorial cartoon drawings. Mr. Davies’ winning drawings targeted political events.For the first time, no Pulitzer Prize was awarded for feature writing this year. The judges could not agree on a winner.

Judges for the Pulitzer Prize gave seven awards for the arts. Anne Applebaum won for a general nonfiction book. Her book is called “Gulag: A History. ” It tells about punishment labor camps in the former Soviet Union.

William Taubman also wrote about the former Soviet Union. His book, “Khrushchev: The Man and His Era” tells about former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It won the Pulitzer Prize for biography, a book about someone’s life. Mr. Taubman spent twenty years researching and writing the book.

Edward P. Jones was honored for his book, “The Known World.” It won the Pulitzer Prize for a work of fiction. The book tells a story about a black man who owned slaves in the southern United States.

A nonfiction book about African American life in the United States won the Pulitzer Prize for history. Steven Hahn wrote “A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration.”

Musician Paul Moravec won for his composition called “Tempest Fantasy.” Mr. Moravec says his instrumental chamber piece is linked to William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest.” Mr. Moravec creates tonal music – music with traditional melody.

Doug Wright won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for his play, “I Am My Own Wife.” In this unusual drama, one actor takes the part of more than thirty-six people. It is playing on Broadway in New York City. One critic said the play should receive every prize that exists.

Franz Wright won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his collection, “Walking to Martha’s Vineyard.” Martha’s Vineyard is an island in the Atlantic Ocean near the state of Massachusetts. Mr. Wright’s father, James Wright, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in nineteen-seventy-two.

This program was written by Jerilyn Watson and produced by Caty Weaver. I’m Faith Lapidus.

And I’m Doug Johnson. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.