by Felicity Barringer
The New York Times won a record seven Pulitzer Prizes yesterday, including six for its news coverage of the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, its victims, its causes and its aftermath, all transformative events in the modern history of the United States. The attacks and the war on terrorism were the focus of 8 of the 14 Pulitzer Prizes awarded for journalism.
The staff of The Wall Street Journal, which on Sept. 11 was forced to abandon its building across the street from 2 World Trade Center, pick its way through the carnage and gather in small groups around Manhattan and New Jersey, was awarded the prize for breaking news reporting.
One of two prizes awarded to The Washington Post yesterday was for its staff’s national coverage of the war on terrorism.
The Times’s Pulitzers included the public service award for the section A Nation Challenged, which was anchored each day with a full page headed Portraits of Grief, consisting of biographical sketches of those who died at the World Trade Center. The coverage on The Times’s Web site was also mentioned in the citation by the Pulitzer board at Columbia University, which administers the prizes.
The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times won two prizes apiece. Newsday won the award for criticism for the work of its classical music critic, Justin Davidson.
In the 86 years that the prizes have been awarded, no newspaper has previously won more than three in a single year.
“We are witness to an extraordinary moment in the history of this newspaper, just an extraordinary moment,” said Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The Times, addressing hundreds of reporters and editors gathered in the newspaper’s newsroom off Times Square. “But it is built on the back of a real tragedy.”
He then called for a moment of silence in memory of the nearly 3,000 people killed during the attacks and their aftermath and of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was killed in Pakistan.
Among the seven awards given in the arts category, David McCullough won for biography for a work that burnished the image of the nation’s often-criticized second president, John Adams.
Diane McWhorter received the award in the nonfiction category for her intricately woven portrait of the best and worst of Birmingham’s citizens in Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution.
Six of the eight awards for coverage of terrorism and its consequences were given not to individuals, but to the staff of the newspapers involved — The Times, The Post and The Journal.
Among the individual awards, Thomas Friedman, the Times columnist, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, his third award. Barry Bearak of The Times was awarded a prize for international reporting, “for his deeply affecting and illuminating coverage of daily life in war-torn Afghanistan.”
The staff of The Times was awarded the prize in explanatory reporting “for its informed and detailed reporting, before and after the Sept. 11 attacks on America, that profiled the global terrorism network and the threats it posed.”
In a rare double award for photography, The Times received prizes in both the breaking news and the feature categories — breaking news for a portfolio of work by 14 photographers who covered the events of Sept. 11, and feature for 5 photographers’ work in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Of the six journalism prizes awarded for work unrelated to the Sept. 11 attacks, The Los Angeles Times won two, one for Barry Siegel’s “haunting and humane” portrait of a Utah man tried for neglect in the death of his son, and one for editorials written by Alex Raksin and Bob Sipchen about the dilemmas presented by mentally ill homeless people.
Another, for beat reporting, went to Gretchen Morgenson of The Times “for her trenchant and incisive Wall Street coverage,” which focused in part on the business conflicts of financial analysts and the firms that employ them, which receive investment banking fees from the companies the analysts cover.
The Washington Post’s second prize was for investigative reporting by the reporters Sari Horowitz, Scott Higham and Sarah Cohen on the District of Columbia’s “role in the neglect and death of 229 children placed in protective care between 1993 and 2000.”
Clay Bennett of The Christian Science Monitor won for his editorial cartoons.
In the arts category, the fiction prize was awarded to Richard Russo for his novel Empire Falls, about working-class life and aspirations in a small Maine mill town.
The award for history was won by The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America by Louis Menand, an examination of the turn-of-the-century pragmatist thinkers Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., William James, Charles Sanders Pierce and John Dewey. It was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Practical Gods, by Carl Dennis, a professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, won the award for poetry.
The prize for drama went to Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks, which examines the relationship between two brothers. Ms. Parks is the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama.
The composer Henry Brant won the award for music for his work Ice Field, which opened on Dec. 12, 2001, at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.
Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution
Ms. McWhorter’s book is an exhaustive, meticulously detailed account of the struggle between integration and segregation in Birmingham, Ala., her native city and the scene of one of the worst racist atrocities in American history, the murder of four black girls in a 1963 church bombing carried out by white supremacists.
With that event as her centerpiece, Ms. McWhorter writes a history of segregation in Birmingham and the way it was maintained by an intricate alliance of judges, the police, the Ku Klux Klan and the surrounding complacency of white society.
Finalists — War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton and the Generals, by David Halberstam; and The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, by Andrew Solomon.