The New York Times dominated the Pulitzer Prizes announced on Monday, winning five of the coveted awards for investigative, breaking news and international reporting, feature photography and criticism.
The Las Vegas Sun won the most prestigious Public Service Prize for reporting on the high death rate among construction workers on the Las Vegas strip. "The fact that this series stopped people from dying on Las Vegas Strip construction projects is the most important part of what we did," said Managing Editor Michael J. Kelley.
The strength of the prize winners' work shows the power and significance of print journalism, said Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzers.
Newspapers are suffering badly in the recession, with massive job losses, elimination of sections and cancellation of home delivery. A few have ceased publication, slashed salaries and filed for bankruptcy.
"These are tough times for America's newspapers, but amid the gloomy talk, the newspaper winners and the finalists are heartening examples of the high-quality journalism that can be found in all parts of the United States," said Sig Gissler, administrator of the prizes. "It's quite notable that the watchdog function of journalism is underscored in this year's awards. The watchdog still barks, and the watchdog still bites."
Most prestigious award
The Pulitzers are the most prestigious award in journalism and are given out annually by Columbia University on the recommendation of the 19-person board. Each award carries a $10,000 prize except for the public service award, which is a gold medal.
None of the prizes went to journalism covering the economy or the global financial crisis, one of the biggest stories of 2008.
This marked the first year that entries from news organizations that publish entirely on the Internet could compete in the journalism categories.
Despite the growth of online journalism, there were no online winners, and only Politico.com, a largely online outlet, was a finalist in editorial cartooning. The editorial cartooning prize went to Steve Breen of The San Diego Union Tribune.
The New York Times staff won the breaking news reporting award for coverage of a sex scandal that led to the resignation of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and international reporting for coverage of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan under dangerous conditions.
The Times won for investigative reporting by David Barstow on retired U.S. generals who were working as media analysts and co-opted by the Pentagon to defend the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Pictures of Obama campaign
The feature photography prize went to the Times' Damon Winter for pictures of Barack Obama's presidential campaign and the criticism prize went to Times' art critic Holland Cotter.
The record number of Pulitzers won in any year was the Times, which won seven in 2002.
The Los Angeles Times won for explanatory reporting on the cost and effectiveness of attempts to combat wildfires across the western United States.
Local reporting was a tie between the Detroit Free Press for uncovering lies by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, including denial of a sexual relationship with his female chief of staff, that led to jail terms for the two officials, and the East Valley Tribune of Mesa, Ariz., for showing how a focus on immigration enforcement endangered public safety.
National reporting went to the St. Petersburg Times for PolitiFact, a fact-checking initiative in the presidential campaign that examined more than 750 political claims.
Lane DeGregory of the St. Petersburg Times won the feature writing award for the story of a neglected little girl found in a roach-infested room, unable to talk or feed herself, who was adopted by a new family.
The award for breaking news photography went to Patrick Farrell of The Miami Herald for coverage of damage and despair caused by Hurricane Ike and other storms in Haiti.
The commentary prize went to Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post for writings on the presidential campaign.
The editorial writing prize went to Mark Mahoney of The Post-Star in Glens Falls, New York, for writing about the dangers of local government secrecy.
Non-news categories The fiction prize went to "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout of stories from coastal Maine.
The history prize went to "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family" by Annette Gordon-Reed, which won a U.S. National Book Award in 2008. It tells the story of a slave family with ties to President Thomas Jefferson.
The drama prize went to playwright Lynn Nottage, who explored rape as a weapon of war in "Ruined," set in a Congolese brothel.
The prize for biography went to "American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House" by Jon Meacham, and the general nonfiction prize went to "Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II" by Douglas A. Blackmon.
The poetry prize went to "The Shadow of Sirius" by W.S. Merwin and the music prize went to "Double Sextet" by Steve Reich.
There were 1,028 entries submitted, down slightly from the previous year's 1,167 entries for the prizes honoring the best in U.S. print journalism.