BuzzFeed News won its first Pulitzer Prize, for International Reporting

Lindsey Ellefson

Darnella Frazier, the Minneapolis teenager who filmed the police murder of George Floyd on her cellphone, was awarded a Special Citation during the 2021 Pulitzer Prize ceremony on Friday.

The Pulitzer board cited Frazier’s “courageous” video, which “spurred protests against police brutality around the world” for “highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.”

The New York Times won two Pulitzer Prizes, for the paper’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and for criticism by Wesley Morris. And BuzzFeed News earned its first-ever Pulitzer Prize won in the international reporting category for a series of stories about the mass detention of Muslims by the Chinese government.

The Star Tribune, a Minneapolis-based newspaper, won the Pulitzer for Breaking News Reporting, while Matt Rocheleau, Vernal Coleman, Laura Crimaldi, Evan Allen and Brendan McCarthy won the Investigative Reporting honor for the Boston Globe.

Two awards were given out in the Explanatory Reporting category: Ed Yong took it home for the Atlantic and Andrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley, Andrea Januta, Jaimi Dowdell and Jackie Botts secured it for Reuters. The Tampa Bay Times’ Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi were awarded the prize for Local Reporting.

The prize for National Reporting went to the Marshall Project, AL.com, IndyStar and the Invisible Institute. BuzzFeed News’ Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buscheck won for International Reporting while Nadja Drost of California Sunday Magazine won for Feature Writing. Mitchell S. Jackson of Runners’ World also won a Feature Writing prize and the Commentary award went to Michael Paul Williams of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The New York Times received two awards: Wesley Morris was honored for Criticism while the paper overall was honored for Public Service. The Associated Press also took home two awards: Its photography staffers were awarded for Breaking News Photography and Emilio Morenatti was singled out for the Feature Photography honor. National Public Radio’s Lisa Hagen, Chris Haxel, Graham Smith and Robert Little won for Audio Reporting.

Robert Greene of. theLos Angeles Times won for Editorial Writing, but no prize was awarded for Editorial Cartooning.

2021 marked the 105th class of Pulitzer winners and, of course, the award recipients were largely journalists and organizations that did reporting on the coronavirus crisis. The ceremony was held virtually for the second year in a row as a result of the ongoing pandemic, but organizers assured viewers they hope this will be the last time. Notably, the ceremony was postponed from its original April date to give committee members the chance to meet in person to debate the honorees.

Stephen Engelberg, who won in 1996 in the Explanatory Journalism category, said during the ceremony, “The events [of the last year] demonstrated the value of timely, accurate reporting and the crucial role the media play in our democracy. This year’s winners not only covered the news; they delivered context, insights and information available nowhere else. Reporters and editors who worked on these stories faced unparalleled challenges: In-person interviews were sometimes life-threatening. Risky, too, was the essential work done by the reporters covering the police reaction to last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.”

Last year, the New York Times earned three Pulitzer Prize awards, with Nikole Hannah-Jones receiving the award in commentary for her “sweeping, deeply reported and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project,” Brian M. Rosenthal winning in investigative reporting for an exposé on New York City’s taxi industry and the Times staff winning in international reporting.

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