Dozens of journalists and students packed into the World Room inside Pulitzer Hall at Columbia University for the 99th edition of the Pulitzer Prize announcements. The early-arriving crowd snacked on assorted cookies and sipped coffee while awaiting the 3pm dissemination of journalism's most prestigious awards.
The Pulitzers, begun in 1917 by the namesake of this very building, are the gold standard of American journalism, books, poetry and music. Despite a live-stream of the event, seating was at capacity with numerous media members setting up shop on the hardwood floor.
Pulitzer Administrator Mike Pride started off the event explaining the process by which winners are decided. Pride then started firing off the winners in rapid fashion. Media members scrambled to digest the news and report it. And six minutes later, the announcements were complete. As the media-on-media horde filed their briefs, Pride announced he'd return in about 10 minutes to take some questions.
2015 Pulitzer Prize Winners:
- Public Service: The Post and Courier, Charleston, SC
- Breaking News Reporting: The Seattle Times staff
- Investigating Reporting (two winners): Eric Lipton of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal staff
- Explanatory Reporting: Zachary R. Mider of Bloomberg News
- Local Reporting: Rob Kuznia, Rebecca Kimitch and Frank Suraci of the Daily Breeze, Torrance, CA
- International Reporting: The New York Times staff
- Feature Writing: Diana Marcum of the Los Angeles Times
- Commentary: Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle
- Criticism: Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times
- Editorial Writing: Kathleen Kingsbury of The Boston Globe
- Editorial Cartooning: Adam Zyglis of The Buffalo News
- Breaking News Photography: St. Louis Post-Disptach photography staff
- Feature Photography: Daniel Berehulak , freelance photographer, The New York Times
Books, Drama and Music
- Fiction: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)
- Drama: Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis
- History: Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People by Elizabeth A. Fenn (Hill and Wang)
- Biography: The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David I. Kertzer (Random House)
- Poetry: Digest by Gregory Pardlo (Four Way Books)
- General Non-fiction: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (Henry Holt)
- Anthracite Fields by Julia Wolfe (G. Schirmer, Inc.)
Mider's win for explanatory reporting was the first for Bloomberg News, while Ebola coverage of the New York Times won in two categories. Two winners were named in the investigative reporting category.
"It's typical that what we are seeing here is really good investigative reporting," Pride said. "Even investigative reporting showing up in other categories, the local news reporting prize and other prizes [featured investigative reporting]."
When asked why no digital journalism was recognized, Pride was quick to point out that the majority of winners do, in fact, have a digital component.
"For the most part, they are longtime newspapers, however I would say the digital components of their work is becoming more and more sophisticated. Newspapers know where the future is," Pride said.
Magazines are an experimental entry into the competition, but didn't result in any winners. Pride specifically mentioned that a finalist in the feature category was from the New Yorker and reminded the crowd that just because a magazine didn't win, doesn't mean magazines didn't thrive in the world of journalism. "We had very competitive magazine entries," Pride said.
"We honor the winners today, but I have to say it is a very hard thing to get through the eye of the needle and become a Pulitzer finalist," Pride said.