NEW YORK – Reporting on President Donald Trump’s finances and the scandals involving hush money payments to two women claiming to have had affairs with him won two major US newspapers Pulitzer Prizes on Monday.
The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal were presented with the prestigious awards in recognition of their in-depth reporting on the mogul’s financial and personal activities during and after the 2016 presidential campaign.
In addition, Pulitzers were presented to the South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – along with the Capital Gazette of Maryland – for their coverage of mass shootings in 2018 at a synagogue, high school and in a newsroom.
The Sun Sentinel received one of the Pulitzer public service awards for its coverage of the February 2018 killings of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and for delving into and making public the gaps in school security that enabled the shooter to carry out the massacre.
Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy in announcing the awards made special mention of the Parkland school’s Eagle Eye student newspaper, which did not receive a prize but was lauded for its publication of obituaries of the 17 victims.
The Pittsburgh paper received its Pulitzer in the breaking news category for reporting on the October 2018 synagogue massacre in that city in which 11 people died.
Awarded by Columbia University in New York, 14 Pulitzers were presented in journalistic categories and another seven were awarded in the literature and music spheres.
The Capital Gazette was presented with a special citation for its continued coverage and courage after a June 2018 mass shooting in its own newsroom and the Pulitzer board also gave the paper an unusual $100,000 grant to further its journalism.
The Maryland paper’s editor, Rick Hutzell, said that “Clearly, there were a lot of mixed feelings. No one wants to win an award for something that kills five of your friends.”
The man who staged one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in US history had held a longstanding grudge against the newspaper.
Reuters was presented with a Pulitzer for international reporting for covering the brutal repression on Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar security forces, and the wire service also won the breaking news photography award for its images of Central American migrants making their way north towards the US border hoping to receive asylum.
Canedy also paid tribute to Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul, emphasizing that a total of 63 reporters lost their lives in 2018, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Reporters David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner with The New York Times were honored for their exhaustive 18-month investigation into Trump’s finances that overturned the president’s much-repeated fiction that he made all of his massive wealth himself and also revealed that his business empire has apparently engaged in tax evasion.
The Wall Street Journal was awarded for uncovering the secret payments by Trump during his 2016 election campaign to two women claiming he had extramarital affairs with them, as well as highlighting the activities of other people who mediated the hush money payments, reporting which led to the opening of a judicial investigation.
That reporting was conducted by Michael Siconolfi, Ashby Jones and Jennifer Forsyth.
In other categories, the Associated Press was honored in the international news category for its coverage of the war in Yemen by reporters Maggie Michael, Maad al-Zikry and Nariman El-Mofty.
Outside the journalism realm, the legendary Aretha Franklin, known as the “Queen of Soul” was honored with a special Pulitzer for her contribution to the world of music and the arts.
The singer of “Respect” thus became the first women to receive a special mention since the category was created in 1930.
The Pulitzer Prizes were established by newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer in 1917 with recipients of the public service recognition being presented with a gold medal and the other awards carrying a cash prize of $15,000 each.