On Monday, Wood’s series won one of journalism’s highest honors. In awarding him the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, the Pulitzer board cited Wood “for his riveting exploration of the physical and emotional challenges facing American soldiers severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan during a decade of war.”
Wood, who lives in Silver Spring, is a nearly lifelong military-affairs reporter and a bit of a paradox. He was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War but went on to spend decades reporting on conflicts for the likes of Time magazine, the Los Angeles Times and Newhouse News Service. He has been to just about every hot spot on the planet — the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bosnia and Nicaragua, and numerous smaller regional conflicts in Africa.
“The deeper I got into this series of great untold stories, the more I knew these people needed to have their stories told,” he said Monday. He came away from the stories, he said, with “even deeper respect” for the sacrifices of people in the military and “high regard for the medical people who work for our government.”
Wood added: “Big government gets vilified all the time. But we really have the best people working in our military.”
Wood was one of two Washington area journalists to win Pulitzers on Monday. The other was Matt Wuerker, the editorial cartoonist for Politico, the Arlington-based newspaper and Web site, who won for what the Pulitzer jurors said were “consistently fresh, funny cartoons” that were “especially memorable for lampooning the partisan conflict that engulfed Washington.”
“This feels fantastic, to state the obvious,” said Wuerker, a finalist for the award in 2009 and 2010. ”This is a dream come true.”
He added, “I’ve been cartooning for some 30 years ago, and up until a few years ago, I didn’t think anything like this was vaguely possible” until he became a founding staff member at Politico.
“I credit the people aboard the good ship Politico,” he said. “I would really like to give credit to the glorious orchestra constructed around me.”
The Pulitzers awarded to Wood and Wuerker were the first for their publications, which were founded a few years ago (Huffington Post in 2005; Politico in 2007). The awards seemed to tacitly recognize that new-media sources are capable of producing journalism that is of equal or superior quality to traditional news outlets. Pro Publica, an investigative news site, won Pulitizers in 2010 and 2011.