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Dozens of journalists at The East Bay Times worked on the coverage of the deadly “Ghost Ship” fire in Oakland, Calif., in December, which killed 36 people at a warehouse party. “We had everybody involved, from investigative reporters to artists to breaking news reporters,” said Neil Chase, the paper’s executive editor. Mr. Chase said the paper, whose reporting also revealed the city’s shortcomings in preventing the tragedy, was donating the cash prize that comes with the award to a local fund for the victims.
Mr. Eyre (pronounced AIR), 51, won the award for a series of articles about the opioid abuse epidemic in West Virginia. Mr. Eyre, the paper’s statehouse reporter, began his multipart series with these words: “Follow the pills and you’ll find the overdose deaths.” It took Mr. Eyre years to acquire the documents most important to his reporting, and he did it “in the face of powerful opposition,” according to the Pulitzer citation. A lawyer defending a drug wholesale company said that it was vital to protect crucial court records “from the intrusive journalistic nose of the Gazette-Mail.”
A sprawling network of journalists was awarded the prize for their explosive articles on the so-called Panama Papers. The Pulitzer board commended the “collaboration of more than 300 reporters on six continents to expose the hidden infrastructure and global scale of offshore tax havens.” The work was originally submitted for the international reporting award, but the board moved it to the explanatory reporting category.
Finalists: Joan Garrett McClane and Joy Lukachick Smith of The Chattanooga Times Free Press | Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Surya Mattu, Lauren Kirchner and Terry Parris Jr. of ProPublica | The Staff of National Geographic
The prize honored reports about “the perverse, punitive and cruel treatment given to sexual assault victims at Brigham Young University.” The Tribune’s first article said that the university, owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, investigated students who reported sex crimes — and sometimes disciplined them for breaking rules on curfews and dress codes. The Tribune also found that the school’s Title IX office, to which students could report sexual assaults, regularly alerted the honor code office, which looked into the rule violations. In November, Brigham Young took steps to restructure the Title IX office. The school also said that students who reported sexual assaults would no longer risk having their conduct reviewed by the honor code office.
Mr. Fahrenthold was cited for his reporting during the 2016 presidential campaign, which cast doubt on Donald J. Trump’s “assertions of generosity toward charities.” A month after Mr. Trump skipped a Republican debate in Iowa to attend a fund-raiser for veterans, Mr. Farenthold found that only about half of the money had gone to veterans’ charities. Mr. Fahrenthold, 39, later found that Mr. Trump had used his own foundation’s money for business-related legal settlements and purchases that included two portraits of himself. In October, Mr. Fahrenthold received a tip about a video that showed Mr. Trump talking about women in vulgar terms. “The voice you’d heard in so many other contexts was talking in a way we’d never heard before,” Mr. Farenthold said Monday. “That’s what made it so powerful.”
In “Russia’s Dark Arts,” a team of New York Times journalists across two continents chronicled the covert and sometimes deadly actions taken by President Vladimir V. Putin’s government to grow Russian influence abroad. The series, which began last spring, explored the rise of online “troll armies,” the strategic spreading of disinformation and Russia’s unprecedented — and politically consequential — cyberattack on the 2016 American presidential election.
Mr. Chivers, 52, spent months crafting his 18,102-word portrait of a young combat veteran haunted by his experiences in Afghanistan, who was imprisoned after a violent fight with a stranger. Unflinching yet empathetic, the reporting by Mr. Chivers — himself a former Marine — prompted the state of Illinois to vacate the veteran’s jail sentence. “The truth literally set a young man free,” Jake Silverstein, the editor of The New York Times Magazine, where the story appeared, said Monday.
Ms. Noonan, 66, has been a longtime observer and participant in the political sphere, having worked as a speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan. Her winning columns addressed the bruising 2016 campaign season and the rise of Mr. Trump, analyzing his populist appeal and his effect on the Republican Party. Paul Gigot, the editor of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, wrote in a memo to the newsroom, “Peggy didn’t shrink from addressing Trump’s many flaws as a candidate, but she always showed great respect for the intelligence of voters and explained the currents of American life and politics that catapulted Trump to the White House.”
A staff writer at The New Yorker since 1994, Mr. Als, 56, was praised for reviews that “strove to put stage dramas within a real-world cultural context,” particularly when it comes to themes of gender, sexuality and race. Mr. Als, who was a finalist last year, is known for stylish and trenchant prose, and won the honor for a set of 10 pieces that covered works including “The Color Purple” and “Dear Evan Hansen.” American theater, he said in an interview, is an a transitional state. “We’re living in an amazing age,” he said. “All kinds of stories are going to be told now that just didn’t get an audience before. That’s thrilling to me.”
There is no mistaking the anger in the voice of The Storm Lake Times when it writes about the legacy of big agriculture: “Anyone with eyes and a nose knows in his gut that Iowa has the dirtiest surface water in America.” That voice is personal, too. It belongs to Mr. Cullen, 59, who owns the newspaper with his brother John. The Times comes out twice a week and has a circulation of 3,000. Among its admiring readers were Pulitzer jurors. They cited Mr. Cullen’s “tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing.”
The looming ogre of “Nationalism,” armed with a malevolent grin and the club of “Racism,” opened the door and cast his menacing shadow last June. “Hello,” he said. “Remember me?” For this and other work portraying a frightening America, Mr. Morin, 64, earned his second Pulitzer Prize. (The first was in 1996.) The Pulitzer jurors said he “delivered sharp perspectives through flawless artistry, biting prose and crisp wit.”
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Mr. Berehulak, 41, was recognized for work that showed “the callous disregard for human life in the Philippines brought about by a government assault on drug dealers and users.” On Monday, Mr. Berehulak described observing “an assembly line of state-sanctioned murder” over 35 days in Manila. He dedicated his award to the families of those killed, saying he hoped “their pain might somehow be remedied by justice.” He was previously awarded a Pulitzer Prize for feature photography in 2015 for his work documenting the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Mr. Wambsgans, 44, was honored for his portrayal of a 10-year-old boy and his mother after the boy survived a shooting in Chicago. He has mainly photographed violence in the city for the past four years.
“Because he and his mother were so open, it was just a deeper level of intimacy than we’re typically able to convey,” Mr. Wambsgans said. “It’s kind of a bittersweet thing because there’s not a week that goes by that I don’t worry about this boy and his future.”
When he was working on his hallucinatory and chilling novel, which reimagines American slavery, Mr. Whitehead studied works by masters of magical realism, including Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” His aim was to write about “the fantastic with a straight face.”
Mr. Whitehead, 47, said the critical reactions to the book have been enormously gratifying (the novel also won the National Book Award). But one of the most meaningful responses came from a stranger who approached him in a bookstore. “She said, ‘Your book made me a more empathetic person,’” he said.
Ms. Nottage’s play explores working-class alienation in Reading, Pa., a city that has been hurt by deindustrialization. The Pulitzer citation called “Sweat,” which is currently running on Broadway, “a nuanced yet powerful drama that reminds audiences of the stacked deck still facing workers searching for the American dream.”
“I was trying to understand how economic stagnation is reshaping our cultural narrative,” Ms. Nottage said, “and wanting to tell the story of what was happening to people on the ground in a way that was truthful and emotional and unapologetic.”
This is the second Pulitzer Prize for Ms. Nottage, 52, who won in 2009 for “Ruined,” a play about rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Heather Ann Thompson, “Blood in the Water”
Ms. Thompson spent 13 years researching this account of the Attica prison uprising, which the Pulitzer board cited as “a narrative history that sets high standards for scholarly judgment and tenacity of inquiry.” In addition to extensive archival research, Ms. Thompson, 53, interviewed dozens of survivors, participants and observers, many of whom spent decades fighting to uncover the truth about the violent retaking that left 39 prisoners and hostages dead.
“This was a story that the people inside of that prison have been trying to tell for 45 years,” she said.
Finalists: Larrie D. Ferreiro, “Brothers at Arms: American Independence and the Men of France and Spain Who Saved It” | Wendy Warren, “New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America” (Sunday Book Review)
Hisham Matar, “The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between”
Mr. Matar was a 19-year-old student in England when his father, a prominent critic of the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi living in exile, was kidnapped and taken to a secret prison in Libya. This memoir recounts Mr. Matar’s return to his homeland 22 years later, after the fall of that government, to find out what happened to him. The Pulitzer citation called it “a first-person elegy for home and father,” executed with “controlled emotion.” In an interview last year with The New York Times, Mr. Matar, 46, was asked to imagine what his father would have made of his journey.
“My failure to cure myself of Libya would have amused and perhaps even comforted him,” Mr. Matar said. “My search for him would have not. He wanted me, above all things, to be free and happy.”
Tyehimba Jess, “Olio”
Mr. Jess’s second book of poems is a kaleidoscopic and formally ambitious collection about African-American artists between the Civil War and World War I, and the ways in which they both fought against and tried to make creative use of the cultural pressures of minstrelsy. Scott Joplin plays a prominent role in the book’s imagination, as do less well-known figures, most but not all musicians. “American music is critically and fundamentally tied to the African-American experience, the experience of a people who were denied access to literacy for most of our time in this country through slavery,” Mr. Jess, 51, said in an interview in March with The New School. “They were forced to forge another kind of literacy through the music.”
In his meticulously reported book, Mr. Desmond, a sociologist, followed eight impoverished families in Milwaukee as they struggled to make rent. Mr. Desmond, 37, a director of the Justice and Poverty Project at Harvard, said he decided to investigate the causes and the repercussions of evictions as a way to write about the systemic causes of poverty in the United States.
“America’s the richest country, with the worst poverty,” he said. “That ugly fact has troubled me for a long time, and I wanted to understand the role that housing plays.”
Finalists: “In a Different Key: The Story of Autism,” by John Donvan and Caren Zucker (Sunday Book Review) | “The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery,” by Micki McElya
Du Yun, “Angel’s Bone”
Ms. Du, 39, won for her savage chamber opera, a collaboration with the librettist Royce Vavrek, which finds an allegory for human trafficking in the story of two angels who are brutally mistreated after they crash-land in a suburban backyard.
“In the U.S., trafficking seems very far from us, in Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe,” she said. “But it’s happening right in front of our eyes. And that’s how this arose, to be able to create a platform that’s not didactic, but a work that allows ideas to blossom.”
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