The Pulitzer Prize does not automatically consider all applicable works in the media, but only those that have specifically been entered. (Each entry must be accompanied by a $75 handling fee.) Entries must fit in at least one of the specific prize categories, and cannot simply gain entrance for being literary or musical. Works can also be entered only in a maximum of two categories, regardless of their properties.
Each year, more than 100 jurors are selected by the Pulitzer Prize Board to serve on 22 separate juries for the 23 award categories; one jury makes recommendations for both photography awards. Most juries consist of five members, except for those for Public Service, Investigative Reporting, Explanatory Reporting, Feature Writing, Commentary and Audio Reporting categories, which have seven members; however, all book juries have five members. For each award category, a jury makes three nominations. The board selects the winner by majority vote from the nominations, or bypasses the nominations and selects a different entry following a 75 percent majority vote. The board can also vote to issue no award. The board and journalism jurors are not paid for their work; however, the jurors in letters, music, and drama receive honoraria for the year.
Difference between entrants and nominated finalistsedit
Anyone whose work has been submitted is called an entrant. The jury selects a group of nominated finalists and announces them, together with the winner for each category. However, some journalists and authors who were only submitted, but not nominated as finalists, still claim to be Pulitzer nominees in promotional material.
The Pulitzer board has cautioned entrants against claiming to be nominees. The Pulitzer Prize website's Frequently Asked Questions section describes their policy as follows: "Nominated Finalists are selected by the Nominating Juries for each category as finalists in the competition. The Pulitzer Prize Board generally selects the Pulitzer Prize Winners from the three nominated finalists in each category. The names of nominated finalists have been announced only since 1980. Work that has been submitted for Prize consideration but not chosen as either a nominated finalist or a winner is termed an entry or submission. No information on entrants is provided. Since 1980, when we began to announce nominated finalists, we have used the term 'nominee' for entrants who became finalists. We discourage someone saying he or she was 'nominated' for a Pulitzer simply because an entry was sent to us."
Nominally, the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service is awarded only to news organizations, not individuals. In rare instances, contributors to the entry are singled out in the citation in a manner analogous to individual winners. Journalism awards may be awarded to individuals or newspapers or newspaper staffs; infrequently, staff Prize citations also distinguish the work of prominent contributors.
Newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer gave money in his will to Columbia University to launch a journalism school and establish the Pulitzer Prize. It allocated $250,000 to the prize and scholarships. He specified "four awards in journalism, four in letters and drama, one in education, and four traveling scholarships." After his death on October 29, 1911, the first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded June 4, 1917 (they are now announced in April). The Chicago Tribune under the control of Colonel Robert R. McCormick felt that the Pulitzer Prize was nothing more than a 'mutual admiration society' and not to be taken seriously; the paper refused to compete for the prize during McCormick's tenure up until 1961.
Awards are made in categories relating to journalism, arts, letters and fiction. Reports and photographs by United States–based newspapers, magazines and news organizations (including news websites) that "[publish] regularly" are eligible for the journalism prize. Beginning in 2007, "an assortment of online elements will be permitted in all journalism categories except for the competition's two photography categories, which will continue to restrict entries to still images." In December 2008, it was announced that for the first time content published in online-only news sources would be considered.
Although certain winners with magazine affiliations (most notably Moneta Sleet Jr.) were allowed to enter the competition due to eligible partnerships or concurrent publication of their work in newspapers, the Pulitzer Prize Advisory Board and the Pulitzer Prize Board historically resisted the admission of magazines into the competition, resulting in the formation of the National Magazine Awards at the Columbia Journalism School in 1966.
In October 2016, magazine eligibility was extended to all journalism categories. Hitherto confined to the local reporting of breaking news, the Breaking News Reporting category was expanded to encompass all domestic breaking news events in 2017.
Definitions of Pulitzer Prize categories as presented in the December 2017 Plan of Award:
Public Service – for a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper, magazine or news site through the use of its journalistic resources, including the use of stories, editorials, cartoons, photographs, graphics, videos, databases, multimedia or interactive presentations or other visual material. Often thought of as the grand prize, and mentioned first in listings of the journalism prizes, the Public Service award is only given to the winning news organization. Alone among the Pulitzer Prizes, it is awarded in the form of a gold medal.
Breaking News Reporting – for a distinguished example of local, state or national reporting of breaking news that, as quickly as possible, captures events accurately as they occur, and, as time passes, illuminates, provides context and expands upon the initial coverage.
Explanatory Reporting – for a distinguished example of explanatory reporting that illuminates a significant and complex subject, demonstrating mastery of the subject, lucid writing and clear presentation, using any available journalistic tool.
Local Reporting – for a distinguished example of reporting on significant issues of local concern, demonstrating originality and community expertise, using any available journalistic tool.
National Reporting – for a distinguished example of reporting on national affairs, using any available journalistic tool.
Editorial Writing – for distinguished editorial writing, the test of excellence being clearness of style, moral purpose, sound reasoning, and power to influence public opinion in what the writer conceives to be the right direction, using any available journalistic tool.
Editorial Cartooning – for a distinguished cartoon or portfolio of cartoons, characterized by originality, editorial effectiveness, quality of drawing and pictorial effect, published as a still drawing, animation or both.
In 2020, the Audio Reporting category was added. The first prize in this category was awarded to "The Out Crowd", an episode of the public radio program This American Life. In the second year, the Pulitzer was awarded for the NPRpodcastNo Compromise.
In addition to the prizes, Pulitzer Travelling Fellowships are awarded to four outstanding students of the Graduate School of Journalism as selected by the faculty.
Changes to categoriesedit
Over the years, awards have been discontinued either because the field of the award has been expanded to encompass other areas; the award has been renamed because the common terminology changed; or the award has become obsolete, such as the prizes for telegraphic reporting.
An example of a writing field that has been expanded was the former Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (awarded 1918–1947), which has been changed to the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, which also includes short stories, novellas, novelettes, and poetry, as well as novels.
awarded, category still exists (one small number marks the year since this category exists)
awarded, category renamed (two small numbers marking the first and the last year this category existed under that name)
awarded, category no longer exists (two small numbers marking the first and the last year this category existed)
not awarded, although there were nominees and a category in this year
The small single numbers mark the last digit of the year and are linked to the corresponding Pulitzer Prize article of that year.
The nineteen-member Pulitzer Prize Board convenes semi-annually, traditionally in the Joseph Pulitzer World Room at Columbia University's Pulitzer Hall. It comprises major editors, columnists and media executives in addition to six members drawn from academia and the arts, including the president of Columbia University, the dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the administrator of the prizes, who serves as the board's secretary. The administrator and the dean (who served on the board from its inception until 1954 and beginning again in 1976) participate in the deliberations as ex officio members, but cannot vote. Aside from the president and dean (who serve as permanent members for the duration of their respective appointments) and the administrator (who is re-elected annually), the board elects its own members for a three-year term; members may serve a maximum of three terms. Members of the board and the juries are selected with close attention "given to professional excellence and affiliation, as well as diversity in terms of gender, ethnic background, geographical distribution and size of news organization."
Former Associated Press and Los Angeles Times editor Marjorie Miller was named administrator in April 2022. She succeeded former New York Times senior editor Dana Canedy, who served in the role from 2017 to 2020. Canedy was the first woman and first person of color to hold the position. Edward Kliment, the program's longtime deputy administrator, was appointed acting administrator in July 2020 when Canedy became senior vice president and publisher of Simon & Schuster's flagship eponymous imprint. He chose not to contend for the position and returned to his previous role upon Miller's appointment.
In addition to Canedy, past administrators include John Hohenberg (the youngest person to hold the position to date; 1954–1976), fellow Graduate School of Journalism professor Richard T. Baker (1976–1981), former Newsweek executive editor Robert Christopher (1981–1992), former New York Times managing editor Seymour Topping (1993–2002), former Milwaukee Journal editor Sig Gissler (2002–2014) and former Concord Monitor editor Mike Pride (the only former board member to hold the position to date; 2014–2017). Prior to the installation of Hohenberg, the program was jointly administered by members of the Journalism School's faculty (most notably longtime dean Carl W. Ackerman) and officials in Columbia's central administration under the aegis of Frank D. Fackenthal.
Following the retirement of Joseph Pulitzer Jr. (a grandson of the endower who served as permanent chair of the board for 31 years) in 1986, the chair has typically rotated to the most senior member (or members, in the case of concurrent elections) on an annual basis.
Since 1975, the board has made all prize decisions; prior to this point, the board's recommendations were ratified by a majority vote of the trustees of Columbia University. Although the administrator's office and staff are housed alongside the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia's Pulitzer Hall and several administrators have held concurrent full-time or adjunct faculty appointments at the Journalism School, the board and administration have been operationally separate from the school since 1950.: 121
1957 Biography Prize: The purported writer of Profiles in Courage, U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy, was believed to have had most of the book for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in Biography ghostwritten for him. Journalist Drew Pearson claimed on an episode of The Mike Wallace Interview which aired in December 1957 that "John F. Kennedy is the only man in history that I know who won a Pulitzer Prize for a book that was ghostwritten for him" and that his speechwriter Ted Sorensen was the book's actual author, though his claim later was retracted by the show's network, ABC, after Kennedy's father threatened to sue.Herbert Parmet also determined that the book was in fact mostly ghostwritten, writing in his 1980 book Jack: The Struggles of John F. Kennedy that although Kennedy did oversee the production and provided for the direction and message of the book, it was in fact Sorensen who provided most of the work that went into the end product. Sorenson himself would later admit in his 2008 autobiography, Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History, that he did in fact write "a first draft of most of the chapters" and "helped choose the words of many of its sentences". In addition to the ghostwriting controversy, it was also determined two of the eight U.S. Senators profiled in the book, Edmund G. Ross and Lucius Lamar, did not actually match what the book glorified them as.
1962 Biography Prize: Citizen Hearst: A Biography of William Randolph Hearst by W. A. Swanberg was recommended by the jury and advisory board but overturned by the trustees of Columbia University (then charged with final ratification of the prizes) because its subject, Hearst, was not an "eminent example of the biographer's art as specified in the prize definition."
1974 Fiction Prize: Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon was recommended by the three-member fiction jury, but the advisory board overturned that decision and no award was given by the trustees.
Shortly after receiving a Special Citation for Roots: The Saga of an American Family in the spring of 1977, Alex Haley was charged with plagiarism in separate lawsuits by Harold Courlander and Margaret Walker Alexander. Courlander, an anthropologist and novelist, charged that Roots was copied largely from his novel The African (1967). Walker claimed that Haley had plagiarized from her Civil War-era novel Jubilee (1966). Legal proceedings in each case were concluded late in 1978. Courlander's suit was settled out of court for $650,000 (equivalent to $2.9 million in 2022) and an acknowledgment from Haley that certain passages within Roots were copied from The African. Walker's case was dismissed by the court, which, in comparing the content of Roots with that of Jubilee, found that "no actionable similarities exist between the works."
1981 Feature Writing Prize: Washington Post staff writer Janet Cooke returned the award after an investigation by the newspaper found she fabricated her prize-winning story "Jimmy's World", a profile of an eight-year-old heroin addict in Washington, D.C.
1994 History Prize: Gerald Posner's Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK, Lawrence Friedman's Crime and Punishment in American History and Joel Williamson's William Faulkner and Southern History were nominated unanimously for the award; however, no award was given. The decision not to give an award to one of the three books created a public controversy. One of the 19 members of the Pulitzer Board, John Dotson, said that all of the three nominated books were "flawed in some way." But another board member, Edward Seaton, editor of The Manhattan Mercury, disagreed, saying it was "unfortunate" that no award had been given.
2020 International Reporting Prize: Russian journalist Roman Badanin, editor-in-chief of independent Russian media outlet Proekt (Project), said that at least two New York Times articles in the entry repeated findings of Proekt's articles published a few months before.
Criticism and studiesedit
Some critics of the Pulitzer Prize have accused the organization of favoring those who support liberal causes or oppose conservative causes. Conservative columnist L. Brent Bozell Jr. said that the Pulitzer Prize has a "liberal legacy", particularly in its prize for commentary. He pointed to a 31-year period in which only five conservatives won prizes for commentary. 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary Kathleen Parker wrote, "It's only because I'm a conservative basher that I'm now recognized."Alexander Theroux describes the Pulitzer Prize as "an eminently silly award, [that] has often been handed out as a result of pull and political log-rolling, and that to some of the biggest frauds and fools alike."
A 2012 academic study by journalism professors Yong Volz of the University of Missouri and Francis Lee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong found "that only 27% of Pulitzer winners since 1991 were females, while newsrooms are about 33% female." The researchers concluded female winners were more likely to have traditional academic experience, such as attendance at Ivy League schools, metropolitan upbringing, or employment with an elite publication such as The New York Times. The findings suggest a higher level of training and connectedness are required for a female applicant to be awarded the prize, compared to male counterparts.
^"FAQ". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved April 15, 2019. 24. How is 'Pulitzer' pronounced? The correct pronunciation is 'PULL it sir.' The pronunciation /ˈpjuːlɪtsər/PEW-lit-sər, even if considered mistaken, is quite common, and included in the major British and American dictionaries.
^ abcdTopping, Seymour (2008). "History of The Pulitzer Prizes". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved September 13, 2011. Updated 2013 by Sig Gissler.
^"Pulitzer Prize Board Announces New Book Category". Pulitzer.
^"Pulitzer Board raises prize award to $15,000". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. January 3, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
^Topping, Seymour (2008). "Administration". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved January 31, 2013. Updated 2013 by Sig Gissler.
^"The Medal". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
^"Entry Form for a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism" (PDF). The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University.
^"Frequently Asked Questions". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Archived from the original on November 18, 2018. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
^Abad-Santos, Alexander (June 26, 2012). "Journalists, Please Stop Saying You Were 'Pulitzer Prize-Nominated'". What Matters Now. The Atlantic Wire – via news.yahoo.
^"The 2000 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Public Service: The Washington Post, notably for the work of Katherine Boo". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
^"The 1996 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Public Service: The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), for the work of Melanie Sill, Pat Stith and Joby Warrick". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
^"The 2009 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Local Reporting: Detroit Free Press Staff, and notably Jim Schaefer and M.L. Elrick". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
^Morris, James McGrath (2010). Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power. New York, NY: HarperCollins. p. 461. ISBN 978-0-06-079870-3. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
^Reardon, Patrick T. (June 8, 1997). "A Parade of Pulitzers". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 27, 2013. for more than two decades [...] the Tribune refused to compete for the awards.
^Epstein, Joseph (August 1997). "The Colonel and the Lady" (PDF). Commentary. p. 48. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 6, 2013. Retrieved April 27, 2013. He viewed the Pulitzer Prize as a 'mutual admiration society,' and hence not to be taken seriously.
^"2017 Journalism Submission Guidelines, Requirements and FAQs". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
^ ab"Pulitzer Board Widens Range of Online Journalism in Entries". The Pulitzer Prizes (Press release). Columbia University. November 27, 2006. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
^"Pulitzer Prizes Broadened to Include Online-Only Publications Primarily Devoted to Original News Reporting". The Pulitzer Prizes (Press release). Columbia University. December 8, 2008. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
^"Expanded eligibility for three journalism categories". The Pulitzer Prizes (Press release). Columbia University. October 26, 2015. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
^"2016 Pulitzer Prizes". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
^"Pulitzer Prizes open all journalism categories to magazines". The Pulitzer Prizes (Press release). Columbia University. October 18, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
^"Pulitzer Board Expands Eligibility in Breaking News Prize Category". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. December 4, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
^"2020 Plan of Award". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. August 2020. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
^Audio Reporting: Winners 2020–2022, The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved March 6, 2023.
^"Elizabeth Alexander elected to Pulitzer Prize Board". The Pulitzer Prizes (Press release). Columbia University. May 30, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
^ ab"Journalist Marjorie Miller is Elected Administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes" (Press release). The Pulitzer Prizes. March 31, 2022. Retrieved April 22, 2022.
^"Journalist, Author Dana Canedy Is Elected Administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes". The Pulitzer Prizes (Press release). Columbia University. July 12, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
^"The 2001 Pulitzer Prize Winner in National Reporting". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
^"Pulitzer Administrator Dana Canedy Steps Down To Accept Publisher Role at Simon & Schuster". The Pulitzer Prizes (Press release). New York: Columbia University. July 6, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
^Topping, Seymour. "Biography of Joseph Pulitzer". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved May 16, 2017. Updated 2013 by Sig Gissler.
^Kihss, Peter (May 6, 1975). "Pulitzer Prizes Awarded 2 Biographers and Albee". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 14, 2023.
^ abBoylan, James (2003). Pulitzer's School: Columbia University's School of Journalism, 1903–2003. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-50017-3. OCLC 704692556. Retrieved March 4, 2017 – via Google Books.
^Oehlschlaeger, Fritz H. (November 1979). "Hamlin Garland and the Pulitzer Prize controversy of 1921". American Literature. 51 (3): 409–414. doi:10.2307/2925396. JSTOR 2925396.
^ abWalls, Jeannette (2000). Dish: The Inside Story on the World of Gossip. New York: Avon Books, Inc., an Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. pp. 29–35. ISBN 0-380-97821-0.
^Fischer, Heinz Dietrich; Fischer, Erika J. (2007). Chronicle of the Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction. Munich: K.G. Saur. p. 21.
^McDowell, Edwin (May 11, 1984). "Publishing: Pulitzer Controversies". The New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
^Hohenberg, John. The Pulitzer Diaries: Inside America's Greatest Prize. 1997. p. 109.
^McDowell, Edwin. "Publishing: Pulitzer Controversies". The New York Times, May 11, 1984: C26.
^Fein, Esther B. (March 3, 1993). "Book Notes". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 11, 2007. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
^"Judge Rules "Roots" Original". Spokane Daily Chronicle. September 21, 1978. Archived from the original on December 15, 2020. Retrieved August 19, 2020 – via Associated Press.
^"Suit against Alex Haley is dismissed". The Montreal Gazette. September 22, 1978. Archived from the original on December 15, 2020. Retrieved August 19, 2020 – via United Press International.
^Complete Historical Handbook of the Pulitzer Prize System 1917–2000: Decision-Making Processes in all Award Categories Based on Unpublished Sources, by Heinz D. Fischer and Erika J. Fischer, The Pulitzer Prize Archive, Walter de Gruyer, 2003, p. 325
^"Pulitzer Decision Angers Juror Ignoring Nominations, Panel Didn't Know History Prize", San Jose Mercury News, April 23, 1994, p. 2B
^Yong Z. Volz; Francis LF Lee (August 30, 2012). "Who wins the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting? Cumulative advantage and social stratification in journalism". Journalism. 14 (5): 587–605. doi:10.1177/1464884912455905. S2CID 145197126.
^"Female Pulitzer Prize winners require higher qualifications, study finds". Phys.org. University of Missouri. October 18, 2012. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
Auxier, George W. (March 1940). "Middle Western Newspapers and the Spanish–American War, 1895–1898" (PDF). Mississippi Valley Historical Review. Organization of American Historians. 26 (4): 523–534. doi:10.2307/1896320. JSTOR 1896320. S2CID 165632973. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 7, 2020.
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Pulitzer Prizes Collection at Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library