Coverage of Alaska policing, Kashmir crackdown win Pulitzers

Six-year-old Muneefa Nazir, a Kashmiri girl whose right eye was hit by a marble ball shot allegedly by Indian Paramilitary soldiers on Aug. 12, stands outside her home in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Sept. 17, 2019. The image was part of a series of photographs by Associated Press photographers which won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)
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The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica won the Pulitzer Prize in public service Monday for illuminating public safety gaps in Alaska, revealing that a third of villages had no police protection.

The “riveting” series spurred legislative changes and an influx of spending, the judges noted in an announcement postponed several weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The New York Times won the investigative reporting prize for an expose of predatory lending in the New York City taxi industry and also took the international reporting award for what the judges called “enthralling stories, reported at great risk,” about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government.

The Times also was awarded the commentary prize for an essay that Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote as part of the paper’s ambitious 1619 Project, a wide-ranging examination that followed the throughlines of slavery in American life to this day.

The Washington Post’s work on the environmental effects of extreme temperatures was recognized for explanatory reporting.

In a development that recognized how podcasting has brought new attention to reporting aimed at listeners rather than readers or viewers, a first-ever award for audio reporting went to “This American Life,” the Los Angeles Times and Vice News for “The Out Crowd,” an examination of the Trump administration’s “remain in Mexico” immigration policy. The judges called the reports “revelatory, intimate journalism.”

In another prize for the Los Angeles Times, Christopher Knight won the criticism award for what the judges called “extraordinary community service by a critic” in examining a proposal to overhaul of the L.A. County Museum of Art.

The staff of The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky, took the breaking news reporting award for unpacking racial disparities and other issues in a spate of governor’s pardons.

Two different projects — ProPublica’s look at deadly accidents in the U.S. Navy and The Seattle Times’ examination of design flaws in the troubled Boeing 737 MAX jet — won the national reporting award.

The local reporting award went to The Baltimore Sun for shedding light on a lucrative and previously undisclosed financial relationship between the mayor and the public hospital system, which she helped oversee.

The New Yorker took the feature reporting prize for Ben Taub’s piece on a detainee at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with judges saying the story offered “a nuanced perspective on America’s wider war on terror.”

New Yorker contributor Barry Blitt got the editorial cartooning award for work that “skewers the personalities and policies emanating from the Trump White House,” as the judges saw it.

The Associated Press won the feature photography prize for images made during India’s clampdown on Kashmir, where a sweeping curfew and shutdowns of phone and internet service added to the challenges of showing the world what was happening in the region of 7 million people.

AP photographers Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan and Channi Anand snaked around roadblocks, sometimes took cover in strangers’ homes and hid cameras in vegetable bags to capture images of protests, police and paramilitary action and daily life. Then they headed to an airport to persuade travelers to carry the photo files out with them and get them to the AP’s office in New Delhi.

Reuters won the breaking news photography award for its coverage of protests that shook Hong Kong.

While big outlets and collaborations got plenty of recognition, the small Palestine Herald-Press, in East Texas, got a Pulitzer of its own, for Jeffery Gerritt’s editorials on the deaths of jail inmates awaiting trial. Judges said Gerritt “courageously took on the local sheriff and judicial establishment, which tried to cover up these needless tragedies.”

In the arts categories, Michael R. Jackson’s musical “A Strange Loop,” about a man trying to write a musical, won the drama prize. And Colson Whitehead’s “The Nickel Boys” won the fiction prize; he also won in 2017 for “The Underground Railroad.”

The initial Pulitzer ceremony, which had been scheduled for April 20, was pushed to give Pulitzer Board members who were busy covering the pandemic more time to evaluate the finalists.

The awards luncheon that is traditionally held at Columbia University in May will be postponed, as well. Details of a fall celebration will be announced at a later date, the Pulitzer Board said.

The Pulitzer Prizes in journalism were first awarded in 1917 and are considered the field’s most prestigious honor in the U.S.