Pulitzer Prizes

Every year, Pulitzer Prizes are given for the best newspaper reporting, books, drama, poetry and music in the United States. These awards for excellence were announced earlier this month. I'm Sarah Long. And I'm Steve Ember. 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 Pulitzer Prizes every year 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.

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 fourteen awards to newspapers and reporters for excellence in journalism during Two-Thousand-One. The judges also honored seven people for their work in the arts -- for books, a play, poetry and music.

The most important news event last year happened on September eleventh. On that day, Islamic militants attacked the United States. They crashed hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Defense Department headquarters near Washington, D.C. Passengers on another hijacked plane apparently crashed the plane to prevent more destruction. The attacks killed about three-thousand people.

Eight of the Pulitzer Prizes awarded to newspapers were for stories about the terrorist attacks and events that followed. Pulitzer officials said no other news event was ever so widely represented in the competition. Unlike other years, all the journalism winners were major newspapers.

The New York Times won a record seven Pulitzer Prizes for its work last year. In the past, no newspaper has received more than three of these awards in the same year. Six of the seven awards involved the attacks and the United States-led war on terrorism in Afghanistan. For example, New York Times writers won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory writing. Their winning stories told about terrorists and their activities around the world.

The New York Times also won the public service award. The prize honored a part of the newspaper called "A Nation Challenged." These pages told what happened after the attacks. Every day, the section contained a full page with short stories about the people who died in the attacks. "A Nation Challenged" also reported the progress of the war on terrorism.

Barry Bearak of the New York Times won the international reporting prize. He was honored for his stories about conditions and life in Afghanistan.New York Times writer Thomas L. Friedman won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary -- reports that express opinion. Mr. Friedman wrote about the effects of the terrorist threat on the world. Mr. Friedman won two earlier Pulitzer Prizes for his international reporting from the Middle East.

Pictures in the New York Times also received awards. Its photographers won the Pulitzer Prize for pictures of news events in progress. The winning pictures showed how the destruction of the World Trade Center affected New York City. Pulitzer Prize judges also honored New York Times photographers for feature pictures of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The judges said the winning pictures showed the people's suffering and their strength.

New York Times writer Gretchen Morgenson won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting a very different subject. She was honored for her business reporting. She told about stock market experts who advise investors. Ms. Morgenson showed that some of these experts do not provide complete and honest information to investors.

The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times each won two Pulitzer Prizes for journalism. Bob Woodward and seven other Washington Post writers won the national reporting prize. Their stories explored the war on terrorism.

Three other Washington Post reporters shared a Pulitzer Prize. Scott Higham, Sari Horwitz and Sarah Cohen were honored for investigative reporting. They wrote about the deaths of two-hundred-twenty-nine children in the District of Columbia. The children were under the legal protection of the city when they died. The reporters showed how courts and social agencies failed to protect these children.

Barry Siegel of the Los Angeles Times won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The Pulitzer judges praised his reporting about a man found guilty of carelessness that led to the death of his son. The man killed himself. Mr. Siegel also wrote about the judge in the case.

Editorials express a newspaper's opinions on issues. Two Los Angeles Times writers, Alex Raksin and Bob Sipchen, wrote prize-winning editorials. They told about the problems facing mentally sick people who are homeless and live on the streets.

The Wall Street Journal won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting events as they are happening. Its award-winning story told about the destruction of the World Trade Center. The attack also damaged the offices of the Wall Street Journal across the street. Reporters had to write about the events from a temporary headquarters. The newspaper still has not returned to its offices.

A cartoonist from the Christian Science Monitor in Boston, Massachusetts, won the Pulitzer Prize for political cartooning. Twenty drawings by Clay Bennett won for their social comment. For example, one drawing protests the heightened security measures that followed the terrorist attacks.

Justin Davidson of Newsday in New York won the criticism prize. He was honored for his comments about ten classical music events. They included Metropolitan Opera productions and a New York Philharmonic Orchestra concert. The concert was held to gain money for the families of victims of the World Trade Center attack.

Columbia University also gave Pulitzer Prizes to honor a play, poetry, books, and music. Suzan-Lori Parks became the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Her play, "Topdog/Underdog", is about the tense yet loving relationship between two African American brothers who live together.Carl Dennis won the poetry award for "Practical Gods." Mr. Dennis is a professor at the State University of New York in Buffalo. Critics have praised his work as wise and often deeply emotional.

David McCullough won the Pulitzer Prize for biography, the story of a person's life. His book, "John Adams", tells about America's second president. It describes the marriage of John and Abigail Adams. It also tells about Mr. Adams's great skills as a diplomat.

Louis Menand won the Pulitzer Prize for history. His book is called "The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America." It tells about several young people in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who met to discuss their ideas in Eighteen-Seventy-Two. The group did not last long. But it established beliefs that guided Americans in the early Twentieth Century.

A book by Richard Russo called "Empire Falls" won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It is about a single father who operates an eating place in a town in Maine that used to have several factories. The town represents the hopes of its citizens.

Diane McWhorter won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. Her book tells about the civil rights movement in one city in the American South. It is called "Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution."

Henry Brant won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his composition, "Ice Field." Mr. Brant is a creator of Twentieth Century spatial music. In spatial music, performers are placed in different areas in the theater. The work was performed for the first time by the San Francisco Symphony last December.

This program was written by Jerilyn Watson. It was produced by Cynthia Kirk. I'm Sarah Long. And I'm Steve Ember. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.