NEW YORK — The Minneapolis Star Tribune won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting Friday, June 11, for what the Pulitzer board called its "urgent, authoritative and nuanced" coverage of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police in May 2020.
The board also said it was awarding a "special citation" to Darnella Frazier, the Minneapolis teenaged bystander who recorded video of Floyd's murder on her cellphone, which it said highlighted "the crucial role of citizens in journalists' quest for truth and justice."
Many of the prizes went for coverage of policing and the global protest movement that erupted after Floyd's killing: the Associated Press won the breaking news photography award for its images of the protests, while Robert Greene of the Los Angeles Times won for editorial writing for his work on bail reform and prisons.
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 a bequest to New York's Columbia University in his will.
In 2020, "the nation's news organizations 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 New York Times and the Atlantic were honored for chronicling the COVID-19 pandemic, the two topics that dominated last year's headlines.
The New York Times won the public service journalism honor, often seen as the most coveted of the 22 prizes, for its "prescient and sweeping coverage of the coronavirus pandemic." The Boston Globe won for investigative reporting for uncovering a systematic failure by state governments to share information about dangerous truck drivers that could have kept them off the road.
Friday's announcement of the prizes, most 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.
The Pulitzer Board also recognizes achievements in seven categories in the arts, and awarded its fiction prize to Minnesota author Louise Erdrich for her novel "The Night Watchman" about an effort to displace Native American tribes in the 1950s.