Pulitzer Prize

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Pulitzer Prize
Current: 2022 Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prizes (medal).png
Obverse and reverse sides of the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service gold medal, designed by Daniel Chester French in 1917
Awarded forExcellence in newspaper journalism, literary achievements, musical composition
CountryUnited States
Presented by Columbia University
First awarded1917
Website pulitzer.org OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

The Pulitzer Prize ( /ˈpʊlɪtsər/ [1] ) is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine, online journalism, literature, and musical composition within the United States. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of Joseph Pulitzer, who had made his fortune as a newspaper publisher, and is administered by Columbia University. [2] Prizes are awarded annually in twenty-one categories. In twenty of the categories, each winner receives a certificate and a US$15,000 cash award (raised from $10,000 in 2017). [3] The winner in the public service category is awarded a gold medal. [4] [5]


Entry and prize consideration

Columbia President Lee Bollinger presents the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction to Jeffrey Eugenides. Lee C. Bollinger awarding the 2003 Pulitzer Prize to Jeffrey Eugenides.jpg
Columbia President Lee Bollinger presents the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction to Jeffrey Eugenides.

The Pulitzer Prize does not automatically consider all applicable works in the media, but only those that have specifically been entered. (There is a $75 entry fee, for each desired entry category.) 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. [6]

Each year, 102 jurors are selected by the Pulitzer Prize Board to serve on 20 separate juries for the 21 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 and Commentary categories, which have seven members; however, all book juries have at least three members. [2] 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 a $2,000 honorarium for the year, and each chair receives $2,500. [2]

Difference between entrants and nominated finalists

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." [7]

Bill Dedman of NBC News, the recipient of the 1989 investigative reporting prize, pointed out in 2012 that financial journalist Betty Liu was described as "Pulitzer Prize–Nominated" in her Bloomberg Television advertising and the jacket of her book, while National Review writer Jonah Goldberg made similar claims of "Pulitzer nomination" to promote his books. Dedman wrote, "To call that submission a Pulitzer 'nomination' is like saying that Adam Sandler is an Oscar nominee if Columbia Pictures enters That's My Boy in the Academy Awards. Many readers realize that the Oscars don't work that way—the studios don't pick the nominees. It's just a way of slipping 'Academy Awards' into a bio. The Pulitzers also don't work that way, but fewer people know that." [8]

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. [9] [10] Journalism awards may be awarded to individuals or newspapers or newspaper staffs; infrequently, staff Prize citations also distinguish the work of prominent contributors. [11]


The Pulitzer Prize certificate of Mihajlo Pupin, which used a recycled Columbia diploma PupinPulitzer.gif
The Pulitzer Prize certificate of Mihajlo Pupin, which used a recycled Columbia diploma

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. [12] He specified "four awards in journalism, four in letters and drama, one in education, and four traveling scholarships." [2] 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. [13] [14] Until 1975, the prizes were overseen by the trustees of Columbia University.



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" [15] 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." [16] In December 2008, it was announced that for the first time content published in online-only news sources would be considered. [17]

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 2015, magazines were allowed to enter for the first time in two categories (Investigative Reporting and Feature Writing). By 2016, this provision had expanded to three additional categories (International Reporting, Criticism and Editorial Cartooning). [18] That year, Kathryn Schulz (Feature Writing) and Emily Nussbaum (Criticism) of The New Yorker became the first magazine affiliates to receive the prize under the expanded eligibility criterion. [19]

In October 2016, magazine eligibility was extended to all journalism categories. [20] 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. [21]

Definitions of Pulitzer Prize categories as presented in the December 2017 Plan of Award: [22]

There are six categories in letters and drama:

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 NPR podcast No Compromise.[ citation needed ]

There is one prize given for music:

There have been dozens of Special Citations and Awards: more than ten each in Arts, Journalism, and Letters, and five for Pulitzer Prize service, most recently to Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. in 1987.

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 categories

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.

Chronology of Pulitzer Prize categories
10s1920s1930s1940s1950s1960s1970s1980s1990s2000s2010sCurrent Categories
7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 Journalism
7 9 1 0 2 5 1 3 8 2 Editorial Writing
7 9 8 7 Reporting
7 0 5 0 Public Service
8 Newspaper History Award
2 3 6 0 5 3 Editorial Cartooning
9 7 Correspondence
2 7 Telegraphic Reporting - International
8 7 International Reporting
2 3 7 Telegraphic Reporting - National
8 1 National Reporting
2 7 Photography
8 Feature Photography
8 9 Spot News Photography
0 Breaking News Photography
5 0 Specialized Reporting
1 6 Beat Reporting
8 2 7 Local Reporting
3 3 Local Reporting - Edition time [lower-alpha 1]
4 4 Local General or Spot News Reporting [lower-alpha 1]
5 0 General News Reporting
1 7 Spot News Reporting
8 1 Breaking News Reporting
3 3 Local Reporting - No Edition time [lower-alpha 1]
4 4 Local Investigative Specialized Reporting [lower-alpha 1]
5 Investigative Reporting
0 Commentary
0 2 Criticism
9 4 4 Feature Writing
5 7 Explanatory Journalism
8 Explanatory Reporting
10s1920s1930s1940s1950s1960s1970s1980s1990s2000s2010sLetters, drama, music
7 2 Biography or Autobiography
7 9 4 4 History
7 9 2 4 7 1 3 4 6 8 2 4 6 7 6 Drama
7 0 1 6 7 Novel
8 4 7 4 1 4 7 2 Fiction
2 6 Poetry
3 3 4 5 1 Music
2 General Nonfiction
Special Awards & Citations
7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 Current Categories
   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.
  1. 1 2 3 4 Category Local Reporting - Edition time was renamed Local General or Spot News Reporting and Local Reporting - No Edition time was renamed Local Investigative Specialized Reporting. But it could be the other way too. Until now a citation is still needed.


Pulitzer Hall on the Columbia campus Columbia University, NYC (June 2014) - 01.JPG
Pulitzer Hall on the Columbia campus

The 19-member Pulitzer Prize Board [23] 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 New York Times senior editor Dana Canedy, who contributed to the Times staff entry that received the 2001 National Reporting Prize, served as administrator from 2017 to 2020. Canedy was the first woman and first person of color to hold the position. [24] [25] Edward Kliment, the program's longtime deputy administrator, was appointed interim administrator in July 2020 when Canedy became senior vice president and publisher of Simon & Schuster's flagship eponymous imprint. [26] Former Associated Press and Los Angeles Times editor Marjorie Miller was named as Canedy's permanent successor in April 2022, with Kliment (who elected not to be considered for the position) remaining as deputy administrator. [27] 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. [28]

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. [2] 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. [29] :121


Criticism and studies

Some critics of the Pulitzer Prize have accused the organization of favoring those who support liberal causes or oppose conservative causes. Syndicated columnist L. Brent Bozell Jr. said that the Pulitzer Prize has a "liberal legacy", particularly in its prize for commentary. [53] 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." [54] 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." [55]

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." [56] 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. [57]

See also

Related Research Articles

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    The pronunciation /ˈpjuːlɪtsər/ PEW-lit-sər, even if considered mistaken, is quite common, and included in the major British and American dictionaries.
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