Political Reporting Dominated the Pulitzers

Monday’s Pulitzer Prize announcement celebrated reporting about government accountability in the Trump administration. Selected by the Pulitzer Prize Board, the winners included a range of topical political news coverage.

All the Trump Reporting

The staffs of The Arizona Republic and USA Today won the Explanatory Reporting Pulitzer for vivid multimedia reporting about the difficulties and unintended consequences of following President Donald Trump’s border wall plan along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Trump recently planned to send the National Guard to the Mexico border amidst reporting that he might use military funding to pay for the wall.

“Deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest” about Russian interference in the 2016 president election and connection with the Trump campaign scored The New York Times and The Washington Post the National Reporting recognition.

The Editorial Cartooning Prize went to freelance cartoonists Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan for chronicling in graphic narrative form the daily struggles of real-life refugees, which appeared in The New York Times. The collaborative comic marks the first time that more than one person received that prize, which could signal a shift in the category, noted The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna.

“For nearly a century, the cartooning prize has typically gone to a single-panel cartoon format or a brief visual narrative, generally representing an array of viewpoints from a single creator,” Cavna wrote. “Halpern is believed to be the first non-artist to win the cartooning award — a change that could encourage more reporters to team with cartoonists.”

That Pulitzer is also timely because of Trump’s ban on Syrian refugees and missile strike on Syria after an alleged chemical weapons attack in the country.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar won a Pulitzer for his album “Damn.” CNN’s Clay Cane called the album a “perfect fusion of politics and hip hop” with lyrics like “Donald Trump is a chump, know how we feel, punk/Tell ’em that God comin’/And Russia need a replay button, y’all up to something.” Lamar is the first non-classical or non-jazz artist to win the prize for music.

“In the Trump era, where the citizenry is being divided — torn apart — and American life debased, courtesy of a charlatan posing as the leader of the free world, political art is more important than ever,” Clay wrote. “That is one of the many reasons why the Pulitzer Prize Board, which usually gives its music prize to classical or jazz works, recognized Lamar’s ‘Damn.’”

News Won for Social Issues Coverage

Outlets also won Pulitzers for news that uncovered systemic societal problems, bringing sexual harassment and assault allegations and white supremacy more prominently into the news spotlight.

The New York Times and The New Yorker shared this year’s Public Service prize for “explosive, impactful journalism that exposed powerful and wealthy sexual predators, including allegations against one of Hollywood’s most influential producers.”

The Washington Post staff took home the prize for Investigative Reporting for uncovering the sexual harassment allegations against Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. In December, Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones, making him the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in the state since 1992.

The Breaking News Photography award went to Ryan Kelly, formerly with The Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Va., for capturing the impact of a car attack during the racially charged protests against a white nationalist rally.

Twitter Reacts

Twitter was abuzz after Monday’s announcement.

Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos tweeted praise for the Pulitzer-winning journalists who wrote embarrassing stories about Trump.

CNBC’s Eugene Kim noted that while Trump has repeatedly attacked Bezos and his two companies, Bezos usually remains silent on Trump. (Although he did offer to shoot the president into space after Trump accused him of a tax “scam” involving Amazon and the paper.)

Lamar’s win prompted celebration on Twitter.

Expect political news to continue factoring heavily into Pulitzer decisions during the Trump administration and beyond.

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