The Pulitzer Prizes celebrated its centennial year of awarding the best of the best in journalism and the arts on April 18, 2016. The winners included writers from the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and the Tampa Bay Times.
Some winners have been in the spotlight before, surprising no one (hello, “Hamilton” and Lin-Manuel Miranda). Others have flown relatively under the radar, read only by the publication’s local audience or shining as an undiscovered gem in the vast volume of work published every day.
Here are a few selections to read first from this year’s winners:
“An Unbelievable Story of Rape.” T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project. Published Dec. 16, 2015
The Pulitzers awarded the Explanatory Reporting prize to Miller and Armstrong for “a startling examination and exposé of law enforcement’s enduring failures to investigate reports of rape properly and to comprehend the traumatic effects on its victims.” The 12,000-word piece takes more than a cursory glance to read, but carving time out of your day to read this is worth it. There beautiful artwork and carefully-chosen multimedia elements packaged into the story make the story a well-rounded experience for readers.
“Failure Factories” series. Michael LaForgia, Cara Fitzpatrick and Lisa Gartner of the Tampa Bay Times. Articles published from August 12, 2015 to October 24, 2015.
Tampa Bay Times’ reporters earned the Local Reporting award, for “exposing a local school board’s culpability in turning some county schools into failure factories, with tragic consequences for the community.” Schools in the Pinellas County, Florida have been resegregated by the Pinellas County School Board after they abandoned integration in 2007. The five-part series (not including a prologue, epilogue and response from school board members) looks at how five neighborhood elementary schools have transformed from schools with decent passing rates to “failure factories,” where eight in 10 students fail in standardized reading tests and nine in 10 fail in math.
The Sympathizer. Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Viet Thanh Nguyen won the Pulitzer for Fiction for his book The Sympathizer, which the Pulitzer website described as “A layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a “man of two minds” — and two countries, Vietnam and the United States.” Nguyen’s novel follows a double agent in 1975, living with a group of South Vietnamese army members who escaped Vietnam to Los Angeles, and reporting their activities to the Viet Cong back in Vietnam.
See pulitzer.org for a full list of this year’s winners.