I take that all as inevitable (journalists being a competitive and, yes, opinionated bunch), commiserate with those who did stunning work but didn’t get the big nod — even though the work listed as “finalist” often has as much to learn from — and share a moment of nostalgia with past winners who miss their glory days.
But mostly I applaud as the bar of journalistic possibility is nudged higher and higher. That’s especially important these days, as news organizations contract and the press is under constant assault.
And so, with our most sincere congratulations and gratitude, here is the full list of the 104th class of Pulitzer Prize winners: 15 in journalism this year, with the addition of a new category in Audio Reporting, and 14 in letters and arts.:
Breaking News Reporting
Staff of The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.
For its rapid coverage of hundreds of last-minute pardons by Kentucky’s governor, showing how the process was marked by opacity, racial disparities and violations of legal norms. (Moved by the jury from Local Reporting, where it was originally entered.)
Brian M. Rosenthal of The New York Times
For an exposé of New York City’s taxi industry that showed how lenders profited from predatory loans that shattered the lives of vulnerable drivers, reporting that ultimately led to state and federal investigations and sweeping reforms.
Staff of The Washington Post
For a groundbreaking series that showed with scientific clarity the dire effects of extreme temperatures on the planet.
Staff of The Baltimore Sun
For illuminating, impactful reporting on a lucrative, undisclosed financial relationship between the city’s mayor and the public hospital system she helped to oversee.
National Reporting (two winners cited)
T. Christian Miller, Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi of ProPublica
For their investigation into America’s 7th Fleet after a series of deadly naval accidents in the Pacific.
Dominic Gates, Steve Miletich, Mike Baker and Lewis Kamb of The Seattle Times
For groundbreaking stories that exposed design flaws in the Boeing 737 MAX that led to two deadly crashes and revealed failures in government oversight.
Staff of The New York Times
For a set of enthralling stories, reported at great risk, exposing the predations of Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Ben Taub of The New Yorker
For a devastating account of a man who was kidnapped, tortured and deprived of his liberty for more than a decade at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, blending on-the-ground reporting and lyrical prose to offer a nuanced perspective on America’s wider war on terror. (Moved into contention by the Board.)
Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times
For a sweeping, deeply reported and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, prompting public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution.
*We spoke with Hannah-Jones about her use of cinematic techniques to pull readers through four centuries of history. Read the Storyboard Q&A here.
Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times
For work demonstrating extraordinary community service by a critic, applying his expertise and enterprise to critique a proposed overhaul of the L.A. County Museum of Art and its effect on the institution’s mission.
Jeffery Gerritt of the Palestine (Tx.) Herald Press
For editorials that exposed how pre-trial inmates died horrific deaths in a small Texas county jail—reflecting a rising trend across the state—and courageously took on the local sheriff and judicial establishment, which tried to cover up these needless tragedies.
Barry Blitt, contributor, The New Yorker
For work that skewers the personalities and policies emanating from the Trump White House with deceptively sweet watercolor style and seemingly gentle caricatures. (Moved into contention by the Board.)
Breaking News Photography
Photography Staff of Reuters
For wide-ranging and illuminating photographs of Hong Kong as citizens protested infringement of their civil liberties and defended the region’s autonomy by the Chinese government.
Channi Anand, Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin of Associated Press
For striking images of life in the contested territory of Kashmir as India revoked its independence, executed through a communications blackout.
Staff of This American Life with Molly O’Toole of the Los Angeles Times and Emily Green, freelancer, Vice News
For “The Out Crowd,” revelatory, intimate journalism that illuminates the personal impact of the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.
Anchorage Daily News with contributions from ProPublica
For a riveting series that revealed a third of Alaska’s villages had no police protection, took authorities to task for decades of neglect, and spurred an influx of money and legislative changes.
Letters, Drama and Music
A Strange Loop, by Michael R. Jackson
A metaﬁctional musical that tracks the creative process of an artist transforming issues of identity, race, and sexuality that once pushed him to the margins of the cultural mainstream into a meditation on universal human fears and insecurities.
Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America, by W. Caleb McDaniel (Oxford University Press)
A masterfully researched meditation on reparations based on the remarkable story of a 19th century woman who survived kidnapping and re-enslavement to sue her captor.
Sontag: Her Life and Work, by Benjamin Moser (Ecco)
An authoritatively constructed work told with pathos and grace, that captures the writer’s genius and humanity alongside her addictions, sexual ambiguities and volatile enthusiasms.
The Tradition, by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)
A collection of masterful lyrics that combine delicacy with historical urgency in their loving evocation of bodies vulnerable to hostility and violence.
The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care, by Anne Boyer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
An elegant and unforgettable narrative about the brutality of illness and the capitalism of cancer care in America.
The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)
A sweeping and beautifully written book that probes the American myth of boundless expansion and provides a compelling context for thinking about the current political moment. (Moved by the Board from the U.S. History category.)
The Central Park Five, by Anthony Davis
Premiered on June 15, 2019 at the Long Beach Opera, a courageous operatic work, marked by powerful vocal writing and sensitive orchestration, that skillfully transforms a notorious example of contemporary injustice into something empathetic and hopeful. Libretto by Richard Wesley.
The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
A spare and devastating exploration of abuse at a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida that is ultimately a powerful tale of human perseverance, dignity and redemption.
Ida B. Wells
For her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching.