On 8 May, Columbia University announced the winners of the 2023 Pulitzer Prizes, recognising some of the best of American journalism.
Inevitably, reporting of the Russian invasion of Ukraine featured prominently, but, this year, I was reminded how the best journalism succeeds in shining a light into society’s darkest corners and shows us that, for all our wealth, inequality and injustice remains rife.
Below are some of the winners that stood out for me, along with the judges’ comments:
- Breaking News Reporting (Staff of the Los Angeles Times): For revealing a secretly recorded conversation among city officials that included racist comments, followed by coverage of the rapidly resulting turmoil and deeply reported pieces that delved further into the racial issues affecting local politics.
- National Reporting (Caroline Kitchener of The Washington Post): For unflinching reporting that captured the complex consequences of life after Roe v. Wade, including the story of a Texas teenager who gave birth to twins after new restrictions denied her an abortion.
- Feature Writing (Eli Saslow of The Washington Post): For evocative individual narratives about people struggling with the pandemic, homelessness, addiction and inequality that collectively form a sharply-observed portrait of contemporary America.
- Commentary (Kyle Whitmire of AL.com, Birmingham): For measured and persuasive columns that document how Alabama's Confederate heritage still colours the present with racism and exclusion, told through tours of its first capital, its mansions and monuments – and through the history that has been omitted.
- Feature Photography (Christina House of the Los Angeles Times): For an intimate look into the life of a pregnant 22-year-old woman living on the street in a tent – images that show her emotional vulnerability as she tries and ultimately loses the struggle to raise her child.
Brilliant journalism has the power to make a difference and it’s worth remembering that these stories probably would not have seen the light of day had it not been for the news media organisations that provided a platform for them.
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