2021 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists - The Pulitzer Prizes
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2021 Pulitzer Prizes

Journalism

The New York Times

For courageous, prescient and sweeping coverage of the coronavirus pandemic that exposed racial and economic inequities, government failures in the U.S. and beyond, and filled a data vacuum that helped local governments, healthcare providers, businesses and individuals to be better prepared and protected.

Staff of the Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minn.

For its urgent, authoritative and nuanced coverage of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis and of the reverberations that followed.

Matt Rocheleau, Vernal Coleman, Laura Crimaldi, Evan Allen and Brendan McCarthy of The Boston Globe

For reporting that uncovered a systematic failure by state governments to share information about dangerous truck drivers that could have kept them off the road, prompting immediate reforms.

Andrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley, Andrea Januta, Jaimi Dowdell and Jackie Botts of Reuters

For an exhaustive examination, powered by a pioneering data analysis of U.S. federal court cases, of the obscure legal doctrine of “qualified immunity” and how it shields police who use excessive force from prosecution.

Ed Yong of The Atlantic

For a series of lucid, definitive pieces on the COVID-19 pandemic that anticipated the course of the disease, synthesized the complex challenges the country faced, illuminated the U.S. government’s failures and provided clear and accessible context for the scientific and human challenges it posed.

Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times

For resourceful, creative reporting that exposed how a powerful and politically connected sheriff built a secretive intelligence operation that harassed residents and used grades and child welfare records to profile schoolchildren.

Staffs of The Marshall Project; AL.com, Birmingham; IndyStar, Indianapolis; and the Invisible Institute, Chicago

For a year-long investigation of K-9 units and the damage that police dogs inflict on Americans, including innocent citizens and police officers, prompting numerous statewide reforms.

Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek of BuzzFeed News

For a series of clear and compelling stories that used satellite imagery and architectural expertise, as well as interviews with two dozen former prisoners, to identify a vast new infrastructure built by the Chinese government for the mass detention of Muslims. (Moved by the Board from the Explanatory Reporting category, where it was also entered and nominated.)

Mitchell S. Jackson, freelance contributor, Runner’s World

For a deeply affecting account of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery that combined vivid writing, thorough reporting and personal experience to shed light on systemic racism in America.

Nadja Drost, freelance contributor, The California Sunday Magazine

For a brave and gripping account of global migration that documents a group’s journey on foot through the Darién Gap, one of the most dangerous migrant routes in the world.

Michael Paul Williams of the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch

For penetrating and historically insightful columns that guided Richmond, a former capital of the Confederacy, through the painful and complicated process of dismantling the city's monuments to white supremacy.

Wesley Morris of The New York Times

For unrelentingly relevant and deeply engaged criticism on the intersection of race and culture in America, written in a singular style, alternately playful and profound.

Robert Greene of the Los Angeles Times

For editorials on policing, bail reform, prisons and mental health that clearly and holistically examined the Los Angeles criminal justice system.

Photography Staff of Associated Press

For a collection of photographs from multiple U.S. cities that cohesively captures the country's response to the death of George Floyd.

Emilio Morenatti of Associated Press

For a poignant series of photographs that takes viewers into the lives of the elderly in Spain struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lisa Hagen of WABE, Atlanta, Chris Haxel of KCUR, Kansas City, Graham Smith and Robert Little of National Public Radio

For an investigative series on “no compromise” gun rights activists that illuminated the profound differences and deepening schism between American conservatives.

Books, Drama & Music

The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich (Harper)

A majestic, polyphonic novel about a community’s efforts to halt the proposed displacement and elimination of several Native American tribes in the 1950s, rendered with dexterity and imagination.

The Hot Wing King, by Katori Hall

A funny, deeply felt consideration of Black masculinity and how it is perceived, filtered through the experiences of a loving gay couple and their extended family as they prepare for a culinary competition.

Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America, by Marcia Chatelain (Liveright/Norton)

A nuanced account of the complicated role the fast-food industry plays in African-American communities, a portrait of race and capitalism that masterfully illustrates how the fight for civil rights has been intertwined with the fate of Black businesses.

Postcolonial Love Poem, by Natalie Diaz (Graywolf Press)

A collection of tender, heart-wrenching and defiant poems that explore what it means to love and be loved in an America beset by conflict.

Stride, by Tania León (Peermusic Classical)

Premiered at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City on February 13, 2020, a musical journey full of surprise, with powerful brass and rhythmic motifs that incorporate Black music traditions from the US and the Caribbean into a Western orchestral fabric.

Special Citations

Darnella Frazier

For courageously recording the murder of George Floyd, a video that spurred protests against police brutality around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists' quest for truth and justice.

See 2021 board members