Pulitzer Prizes focus on US policing and Covid-19 pandemic

Minneapolis paper wins for George Floyd coverage while New York Times get public service award

The Minneapolis Star Tribune won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting on Friday for its coverage of the murder of George Floyd.

The prize for public service, considered the most prestigious of the Pulitzers, went to the New York Times for its coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, an award shared by many departments at the newspaper.

Reuters and the Atlantic shared the award for explanatory reporting.

The Pulitzer Prizes are the most prestigious awards in American journalism and have been handed out since 1917, when newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer established them in his will.

Several of the winners were recognised for their coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic and for reporting on the protests that erupted after Mr Floyd’s death in May 2020.

"The nation's news organisations faced the complexity of sequentially covering a global pandemic, a racial reckoning and a bitterly contested presidential election," Mindy Marques, co-chair of the Pulitzer Board, said at the announcement ceremony, which was broadcast online.

The board cited Reuters reporters Andrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley, Andrea Januta, Jaimi Dowdell and Jackie Botts for their "pioneering data analysis" that showed how an obscure legal doctrine of "qualified immunity" shielded police who use excessive force from prosecution.

They shared the explanatory reporting award with The Atlantic's Ed Yong, who was praised by the board for "a series of lucid, definitive pieces on the Covid-19 pandemic".

The board also said it was awarding a “special citation” to Darnella Frazier, the teenaged bystander who recorded video of Mr Floyd’s murder on her mobile phone, which it said highlighted “the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice”.

Friday's announcement of the prizes, worth $15,000 each, had been postponed from April amid the pandemic. The awards luncheon, which normally takes place soon after at Columbia University, has been postponed until autumn. – Reuters/New York Times