Pulitzer Prize winners show progress for female journalists


Kat Shambaugh

Monday April 18 marked the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer prizes, an annual award celebrating the best of journalistic writing, literature, drama, and music.

Kat Shambaugh, Features editor

Columbia University presented the 2016 Pulitzer Prizes to writers across the nation at the centennial ceremony on April 18, 2016.

The prize, which celebrated its 100th year on Monday, recognizes significant achievement in journalistic writing, drama, music, and literature.

The winners for journalistic writing in 2016 covered a wide range of the political and philosophical issues occurring in the past year. The Boston Globe took home two pulitzers: Feature Photography went to Jessica Rinaldi for a feature on a young boy abused as a child, and Commentary went to Farah Stockman for a series of editorials commenting on the busing situation in Boston’s schools. The New York Times and The New Yorker also won two prizes each: International Reporting to Alyssa J. Rubin (Times) for covering Taliban women; Breaking News Photography to Mauricio Lima, Sergey Ponomarev, Tyler Hicks and Daniel Etter (Times) for their photo essays on refugees; Feature Writing to Kathryn Schulz (New Yorker) for covering the Cascadia earthquake; and Criticism to Emily Nussbaum (New Yorker) for her reviews of popular television shows.

The Associated Press won the Pulitzer Prizes’ highest honor, the Public Service award, for sparking public change through journalism. The team snagged the award for their series of pieces on slavery in the international seafood market. The series “freed 2,000 slaves, brought perpetrators to justice and inspired reforms,” according to the Pulitzer website.

Other winners included Breaking News Reporting to the Los Angeles Times Staff, Investigative Reporting to Michael Braga of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and Leonora LaPeter Anton and Anthony Cormier of the Tampa Bay Times, Explanatory Reporting to T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project, Local Reporting to Cara Fitzpatrick, Michael LaForgia, and Lisa Gartner of Tampa Bay Times, National Reporting to the Washington Post Staff, Editorial Writing to Brian Gleason and John Hackworth of Sun Newspapers, Charlotte Harbor, FL, and Editorial Cartooning to Jack Ohman of The Sacramento Bee.

“The topics chosen for the winning journalist pieces, I believe, are current issues that our world needs to discuss and address,” junior Andrew Gasparini said. “These authors provide information and first-hand experiences of awful situation to their readers so that they may understand the hardship people across the globe are enduring. For example, Alissa J. Rubin reported on the mistreatment, oppression, and prejudice against women in Afghanistan. Not all Americans witness the cruelty these females go through, so Rubin lends us her point of view in order for us to understand why they need our assistance.”

The Pulitzers also award prizes to literature, drama, and music writers. The recipients caused a major stir on social media this year as the writer of the hit Broadway show Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, won in Drama for his hip-hop musical chronicling the Founding Father.

“It’s really amazing that there have only been nine musicals to ever win and now Lin’s is one of them,” freshman Hope Kutsche said. “It’s also really cool that he won with a musical that’s hip-hop and rap because up until recently a lot of things like that were passed over. But this way it’s really bringing the history of our country to the audience of younger people and getting a new generation interested in our history.”

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to Vietnamese immigrant Viet Thanh Nguyen for his first novel, The Sympathizer. The story chronicles the tale of an immigrant traveling to America during the Vietnam War, and mixes the excitement of counterintelligence with the depth of its context. Nguyen sees his writing and the prize as a success for his race.

“I see myself as part of a larger movement of writers of color, of Asian-American writers who have collectively been trying so hard to bring different voices and perspectives to American audiences and have often felt overlooked or marginalized in different ways,” he said to the University of Southern California News.

Other pulitzer prizes for literature and music went to Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles for History; Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan for Biography/Autobiography, Ozone Journal by Peter Balakian for Poetry, Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick for General Nonfiction, and In for a Penny, In for a Pound by Henry Threadgill for Music.

The American Society of News Editors claims that women made up 45% of the reporters in newsrooms for 2015. The rate increased since 2000, where it hit 37%. The increase of women in the job market for journalism and writing careers reflects in their increase in Pulitzer prize wins. 2016’s winners included a historically high number of women, topped by the team of female journalists from the Associated Press’ winning the Public Service award. Females won eight out of twenty-one categories; if you count awards to entire staffs, it increases to eleven.

“I think that it’s really great that women are getting nominated,” junior Ansley Hayman said. “I wouldn’t consider myself a feminist, but I am for women’s rights and freedoms, and we work as hard as men do and deserve to get awards. But I feel like this doesn’t have to be about gender- it’s about how great of a writer they are. Put all politics aside, it should simply come down to talent.”

On the 100th anniversary, the Pulitzer Prizes awarded the top writers and journalists in America for their work going above-and-beyond while chronicling the stories of America.