The 2021 Pulitzer Prizes, journalism’s highest honor, were announced Friday after a historic year shaped by a nationwide racial justice reckoning, a polarizing presidential election and a devastating global pandemic.
One big contender for a Pulitzer this year was The New York Times’ investigation of the income tax information former President Donald Trump kept from the public called “The President’s Taxes,” written by Scripps Howard Award and the George Polk Award winners Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire. Although that story didn’t take home a prize, The Times won the Public Service and Criticism Pulitzers for its extensive coronavirus coverage and Wesley Morris’ piece titled “My Mustache, My Self” on the intersection of race and culture in America, respectively.
Minneapolis’ Star Tribune, which was honored by the Scripps, Polk and Online News Association Awards, was also speculated to win for its piece “The Killing of George Floyd,” as Scripps called the article “a local news story that quickly became the global epicenter of America’s long struggle with racial inequality and injustice,” according to Poynter. For that story and more, the publication’s staff was named the winner of the Breaking News Reporting Pulitzer.
Notably, 18-year-old Darnella Frazier was honored with the Special Citation for her cell phone recording of Floyd’s murder, “a video that spurred protests against police brutality around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.”
The Pulitzer Prize Board postponed the awards, originally slated for April 19, for the second consecutive year so that its 18 members could deliberate in person, rather than remotely. The annual awards luncheon, usually held at Columbia University, is also delayed until the fall.
Stay tuned for the full list of 2021’s winning storytellers in journalism, books, poetry and more below as they are announced:
Breaking News Reporting
Winner: Staff of Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minn.
Finalists: Helen Branswell, Andrew Joseph and the late Sharon Begley of STAT, Boston, Mass; Staff of The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.
Winner: Matt Rocheleau, Vernal Coleman, Laura Crimaldi, Evan Allen and Brendan McCarthy of The Boston Globe
Finalists: Dake Kang and the Staff of Associated Press; Margie Mason and Robin McDowell of Associated Press
Winners: Ed Yong of The Atlantic; Andrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley, Andrea Januta, Jaimi Dowdell and Jackie Botts of Reuters
Finalists: Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek of BuzzFeed News, New York
Winner: Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of Tampa Bay Times
Finalists: Jack Dolan and Brittny Mejia of the Los Angeles Times; Staff of The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.
Winner: Staffs of the Marshall Project, AL.com, Birmingham; IndyStar, Indianapolis; and the Invisible Institute, Chicago
Finalists: Staff of The New York Times; Staff of The Wall Street Journal
Winner: Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek of Buzzfeed News, New York
Finalists: BuzzFeed News, New York, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Washington, D.C.; Staff of The New York Times; Staff of The Wall Street Journal
Winners: Nadja Drost, freelance contributor, The California Sunday Magazine; Mitchell S. Jackson, freelance contributor of Runner’s World
Finalists: Greg Jaffe of The Washington Post
Winner: Michael Paul Williams of Richmond Times-Dispatch
Finalists: Melinda Henneberger of The Kansas City Star; Roy S. Johnson of Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
Winner: Wesley Morris of The New York Times
Finalists: Craig Jenkins of New York magazine; Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times
Winner: Robert Greene of Los Angeles Times
Finalists: Alan Wirzbicki and Rachelle G. Cohen of The Boston Globe; Lee Hockstader of The Washington Post
Finalists: Ken Fisher, drawing as Ruben Bolling, for “Tom the Dancing Bug,” Andrews McMeel Syndicate; Lalo Alcaraz, Andrews McMeel Syndicate; Marty Two Bulls Sr., freelance cartoonist
Breaking News Photography
Winner: Photography Staff of Associated Press
Finalists: Hassan Ammar, Hussein Malla and Felipe Dana of Associated Press; Joshua Irwandi, freelance photographer, National Geographic
Winner: Emilio Morenatti of Associated Press
Finalists: Staff of Getty Images; Tyler Hicks of The New York Times
Winner: Lisa Hagen, Chris Haxel, Graham Smith and Robert Little of National Public Radio
Finalists: Staff of National Public Radio; Staffs of the Invisible Institute, Chicago: The Intercept and Topic Studios
Winner: The New York Times
Finalists: ProPublica, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.
LETTERS, DRAMA AND MUSIC
Winner: The Hot Wing King by Katori Hall
Finalists: Circle Jerk by Michael Breslin and Patrick Foley; Stew by Zora Howard
Winner: Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America by Marcia Chatelain
Finalists: The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America by Eric Cervini (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West by Megan Kate Nelson (Scribner)
Winner: The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by the late Les Payne and Tamara Payne (Liveright/Norton)
Finalists: Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark (Alfred A. Knopf); Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World by Amy Stanley (Scribner)
Winner: The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich (Harper)
Finalists: A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth by Daniel Mason (Little, Brown and Company); Telephone by Percival Everett (Graywolf Press)
Winner: Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz (Graywolf Press)
Finalists: A Treatise on Stars by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge (New Directions); In the Lateness of the World by Carolyn Forché (Penguin Press)
Winner: Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy by David Zucchino (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Finalists: Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Hong Park (One World/Random House); Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country by Sierra Crane Murdoch (Random House)
Winner: Stride by Tania León (Peermusic Classical)
Finalists: Data Lords by Maria Schneider; Place by Ted Hearne