NEW YORK — The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, won the Pulitzer Prize for public service Monday for an examination of the deadly toll of domestic violence, while The New York Times collected three awards and the Los Angeles Times two.
The Seattle Times staff took the breaking news award for its coverage of a mudslide that killed 43 people and its exploration of whether the disaster could have been prevented.
The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal both won investigative reporting prizes, the Times for an examination of lobbyists’ influence on state attorneys general, the Journal for detailing fraud and waste in the Medicare payment system.
The Times’ coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa won Pulitzers for international reporting and feature photography, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was honored in the breaking news photography category for its images of the racial unrest touched off by the deadly police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
The Washington Post took the national reporting prize for exposing security lapses that spurred an overhaul of the Secret Service.
The Pulitzer judges also recognized less widely known stories, such as The Post and Courier’s exploration of 300 women’s deaths in the past decade. The paper shed light on a legal system in which first-time offenders face at most 30 days in jail for a domestic violence beating but can get five years in prison for cruelty to a dog.
“We felt so passionate about this project, and we felt so passionate about the difference it could bring to South Carolina,” said P.J. Browning, publisher of 84,200-circulation Post and Courier, which last won a Pulitzer in 1925 for editorial writing.
Since the series was published, state lawmakers have proposed tougher penalties for domestic violence, and Gov. Nikki Haley created a task force to investigate the problem.
The prizes spanned news outlets large and small: The 70,000-circulation Daily Breeze of Torrance, California, won the local reporting award for exposing corruption in a school district. And Bloomberg News was a first-time winner, taking the explanatory reporting award for an examination of corporate tax dodging.
The Los Angeles Times’ prizes were for feature writing that put a human face on California’s drought and for Mary McNamara’s television criticism.
The Seattle Times newsroom erupted in cheers after its mudslide coverage was honored.
“We did what any good newsroom should do when a big story breaks,” Editor Kathy Best told staffers. “We gave people accurate information when rumors and inaccuracies were swirling all over the place. We asked hard questions in the moment. When public officials were saying, ‘Oh, this was unforeseen,’ we showed that it was not unforeseen.”
The commentary prize went to the Houston Chronicle’s Lisa Falkenberg, who examined the case of a man wrongfully convicted of killing a police officer, among other problems in the legal and immigration systems. Kathleen Kingsbury of The Boston Globe was recognized for editorial writing; she looked at restaurant workers’ low wages and examined the toll of income inequality.
Adam Zyglis of The Buffalo News won the editorial cartooning prize for his look at such issues as immigration, gun control and problems in the VA hospital system.
The Pulitzers, established by newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer and first given out in 1917, are American journalism’s highest honor. The public service award consists of a gold medal; the other awards carry a prize of $10,000 each.
For the first time this year, many online and print magazines were eligible for the journalism awards — in feature writing and investigative reporting only — but none of them won.
While the winners were largely drawn from old-media names, “the digital component of their work is becoming more and more sophisticated,” prize administrator Mike Pride said. “Newspapers know where the future is and, in some cases, are doing really good jobs at it.”
Associated Press writers Deepti Hajela, Jake Pearson in New York; Bruce Smith in Charleston, South Carolina; Chris Grygiel in Seattle; and Philip Marcelo in Boston contributed to this report.