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Pulitzer Prizes on Criminal Justice Topped by Post, Times on Jan. 6 Riot


Washington Post reporters spread out across their home city on Jan. 6, 2021, trying frantically to reach their editor, finding it impossible to get a strong cell signal as crowds filled the area. After 1 p.m., a message from reporter Rebecca Tan made it to the Post newsroom from her vantage at the U.S. Capitol, where Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s victory: Participants in a rally for outgoing President Trump had breached the barricades.


It quickly became clear this was an unprecedented and violent event. Yet “nobody ran away from it,” says Metro Editor Mike Semel. “There was bear gas being sprayed, they were looking for journalists to spit on and curse at. It was not a pleasant scene, and everybody ran toward it.”


On Monday, The Post was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service for its coverage of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — “an attempted coup,” as its first main account of the day unflinchingly described it — and the complex and still unspooling aftermath, the Post reports. It was one of several prizes given for reporting on criminal justice subjects.


The New York Times won three Pulitzers on Monday, including one for a sweeping project on fatal traffic stops by police, and was named a finalist in the breaking-news category for its reporting on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.


The Pulitzers’ gold medal prize for public service is considered the most prestigious of the more than a dozen journalism Pulitzers awarded every year.


Melinda Henneberger of the Kansas City Star won a commentary prize for her writing about allegations of sexual assault by a retired police detective.


Futuro Media and PRX won an audio reporting prize for a series entitled “Suave,” which followed a man who served more than three decades in prison reentering society.


Eli Hager of the Marshall Project and Joseph Shapiro of NPR were runners up in the national reporting category for "powerful reporting that exposed how local government agencies throughout America quietly pocketed Social Security benefits intended for children in foster care."