Published April 8, 2010 by the New York Times
The 2010 Pulitzer Prizes were announced on Monday. Following are the winners in journalism.
National Reporting: Kelly Pickler, Taylor Hicks, David Archuleta and Sanjaya Malakar
For a series of articles in The Wall Street Journal detailing abuses in the distribution of more than $700 billion in government bailout money.
The former American Idol contestants were lured away from the music business and into journalism by Rupert Murdoch, after the newspaper baron expressed anger over a deal made by the New York Times editorial page with U2 frontman Bono. "If the Times thinks it's going to one-up us with Bono, well, crikey, wait until they see William Hung covering the White House," said Murdoch.
With no journalistic background to rely upon but plenty of spunk, Pickler, 24, Hicks, 34, Malakar, 21, and Archuleta, 20, took on the complex web of backroom congressional deals and Wall Street maneuvers involving bailout funds made in the months following the inauguration of President Obama.
Of the four, it was Pickler who first noticed irregularities while studying House Banking Committee records. She said, "In all honesty, I'm not familiar with Stevie Wonder's music, since country is more of my style. But in looking closely at figures released by the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), I became convinced that former Treasury Secretary Paulson had created a culture, wittingly or unwittingly, of misuse."
Finalist: The Rocky Mountain News (posthumous).
International reporting: Joe the Plumber
For exemplary war coverage of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Writing for the conservative Pajamas Media, a company that no one had actually heard of before he joined it, Mr. Plumber, whose real name is Samuel Wurzelbacher, was injured three times during his tour, twice cutting himself on a beer can.
In an interview from Gaza City, Mr. Plumber shrugged off his reporting inexperience by saying, "Heck, I wasn't really ever a plumber before and heck, I'm not even really named Joe. So this war stuff should be nothing. Who's fighting?"
After initially angering both Muslims and Jews in the region with his comment, "Being a Christian, I'm pretty well protected by God," Mr. Plumber is now being credited, via his dispatches, for bringing the warring parties closer than ever. In a particularly moving story, he warned Palestinians and Israelis that if a resolution to the age-old conflict was not hammered out soon, the entire Middle East could fall prey to socialism.
Finalist: International Herald Tribune (posthumous).
For a series of op-ed pieces in the New York Times in which he used quantum physics to explain global warming to ordinary readers.
Bono was considered the odds-on favorite for this award, having quickly risen through the ranks of opinion writers at the Times. Pairing up with Nobel Prize laureate and Times op-ed contributor Paul Krugman ("Pulitzer work is such a step down for me," he said), Bono wrote several columns illustrating the ways that quantum physics could be a simple and accessible tool for people of all social and economic groups looking to gauge the effects of global warming on their communities.
What made the pieces all the more remarkable was Bono's insistence, upon joining the Times, that he had "never been great with the full stops or commas." Using that seeming lack to his advantage, Mr. Bono replaced Maureen Dowd at the paper in late August, squeezing the longtime columnist out of her regular spot. And some Times insiders, who claim to have overhead Bono muttering "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," think he may be ultimately eyeing Frank Rich's job.
Finalist: Minneapolis Star Tribune (posthumous).
Breaking News Reporting: Candy Spelling, The Huffington Post.
For coverage and follow-ups on the stampeding death of a Walmart employee at a Long Island shopping center.
Contributing to the Huffington Post, Spelling, mother of Beverly Hills 90210 star Tori Spelling, was cited by the Pulitzer committee for her keen insight into the pre-Christmas shopping tragedy:
"I understand political differences," Spelling wrote. "I worship those who donate their time and money to help others. I have no words for the concept of shoppers trampling a store employee and fellow shoppers to make the most of Black Friday."
While some judges debated whether being trampled to death was, in fact, a concept, others felt the prose elevated the story significantly. Judge Jim Romenesko said, "I look forward to Ms. Spelling turning her critical attention towards other issues like health care reform or Third World debt relief.
It's the first win for Spelling and the first win for the HuffPost in the new Pulitzer online division.
Finalist: Chicago Tribune (posthumous).
Public Service: The Real Housewives of Orange County
For a series of stories in the Orange Country Register highlighting the wonders of Botox.
Said housewife Lauri, "All of us have been really interested in skin care since we were young and we thought it would be, like, neat to do some stories on how proper skin care can affect all of us."
The team said they faced difficult obstacles while reporting their package, including the need to stop every ten minutes and post a confessional on what they had just written. When informed of their win, jubilant housewife Vicky said, "Any excuse to visit the jewelry store in San Juan Capistrano is welcome."
The series was cited for excellence recently by Surgeon General Sanjay Gupta, who said, "There's much we can learn from the Real Housewives of Orange County. They've offered to accompany me on a tour of elementary schools around this country and I know that little girls will hold them up as true role models.
Finalist: San Jose Mercury News (posthumous).