The article misstated the number of bylined reporters and contributors to The Washington Post's coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. Fifty Post journalists, in addition to 11 bylined reporters, contributed to the coverage, which won the Pulitzer for breaking news. Also, this article contained errors in reporting the categories of two Pulitzer Prize winners for photography. Preston Gannaway of the Concord Monitor won the prize for feature photography, and Adrees Latif of Reuters took the award for breaking news photography.
The Post Wins 6 Pulitzer Prizes
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
The Washington Post won six Pulitzer Prizes yesterday, the largest number in the paper's history, for coverage that ranged from an exposé of poor care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to an examination of Vice President Cheney's behind-the-scenes clout to coverage of the massacre at Virginia Tech.
Those stories, along with an investigation of violence by military contractors in Iraq and the writing of business columnist Steven Pearlstein and magazine columnist Gene Weingarten, enabled the paper to break its previous record of four Pulitzers, awarded in 2006.
The New York Times shared the investigative reporting prize, for work by Walt Bogdanich and Jake Hooker on dangerous ingredients in Chinese products, with the Chicago Tribune, for stories about flawed regulation of toys, cribs and car seats. The Times also won an explanatory journalism prize for Amy Harmon's writing on DNA testing.
The Post's awards touched on the most pressing national and international issues of 2007, from the Iraq war to the treatment of veterans, from the inner workings of the Bush administration to the meltdown in the mortgage market, to the worst campus violence in U.S. history. It is rare for one news organization to sweep nearly half the prizes.
The Post series on Walter Reed, by Dana Priest, Anne Hull and photographer Michel du Cille, won the public service medal for documenting in vivid detail the substandard treatment for wounded soldiers and poor living conditions marked by cockroaches and mold. The series sparked a political uproar, prompting Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to fire Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey, and a presidential commission later recommended numerous changes.
After numerous false starts, including visits to a downtown strip club where veterans were supposedly being fleeced, "the hard part was making people feel comfortable enough to talk to us," Priest said, "and then to talk to us on the record. . . . It was a hard story emotionally. For the first time, I found myself in tears after interviews. It was very heartbreaking." Du Cille described sneaking into a patient center with his camera hidden in his gym bag.
The award was the second Pulitzer for Priest, who won in 2006 for revealing that the CIA was operating secret prisons in Eastern Europe.
Barton Gellman and Jo Becker won the national reporting award for a four-part series that examined how Cheney "has shaped his times as no vice president has before," including his impact on the U.S. anti-terrorism effort, tax and spending policies and environmental regulation.
"I resisted this assignment for a while because I thought it was too hard," Gellman said. "I thought the guy is just going to be too tough to crack." But, he said, referring to Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., "Len really wanted it." Gellman shared in a 2002 award for coverage of war and terrorism. Becker is now a reporter for the New York Times.
Eleven bylined reporters and 50 other journalists, more than half on The Post's Metro staff, and staff members of the paper's Web site contributed to the coverage of the mass slayings at Virginia Tech that won the Pulitzer for breaking news. The paper was the first to examine the decision to allow classes to continue after the initial shootings by Seung Hui Cho and to examine failings in the mental health system that had treated the student. A Post reporter also obtained the first eyewitness account by contacting a student through the networking Web site Facebook.
The 11 reporters who received bylines for stories in the prize-winning package were Ian Shapira, Tom Jackman, Michael Ruane, Jose Antonio Vargas, Alec MacGillis, Adam Kilgore, Michael Shear, Sari Horwitz, Brigid Schulte, Tamara Jones and David Maraniss. The Post plans to donate the $10,000 award for the Virginia Tech reporting to a university fund or charity.
Steve Fainaru captured the international reporting prize for his work on Blackwater and other private security firms accused of abuses in Iraq. He reconstructed the shooting of civilians by Blackwater guards who initially were cleared of wrongdoing by the State Department.