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COMMENTARY: David Leonhardt of The New York Times.

Leonhardt was honored for what the judges called “his graceful penetration of America’s complicated economic questions, from the federal budget deficit to health care reform.”

An economic journalist with the Times, Leonhardt writes the weekly column “Economic Scene” in the business section. Many of his recent columns have focused on effects of the economic downturn.

“I feel like we have a very well-informed, very intelligent audience, but many of our readers feel flummoxed by the economy,” Leonhardt said. “It’s mainly because too many of the descriptions of it are filled with jargon.”

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CRITICISM: Sebastian Smee, The Boston Globe.

The committee honored Smee, the Globe’s visual arts critic, for his “vivid and exuberant writing … often bringing great works to life with love and appreciation.”

In 2010, Smee critiqued a range of works including individual paintings by Dutch painter Willem de Kooning and Boston artist Polly Thayer; an exhibit of the works of Spanish painter Luis Melendez; and a show exploring the influence of French impressionist painter Edgar Degas on Pablo Picasso.

Smee, a native of Australia who came to the Globe in 2008, was a Pulitzer finalist in 2009.

“In writing about art, Smee creates verbal art. Readers really see what he sees, feel what he feels,” Globe editor Martin Baron said in his nominating letter.

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EDITORIAL WRITING: Joseph Rago of The Wall Street Journal.

Rago was honored for his editorials challenging the health care changes advocated by President Barack Obama.

In his “Review & Outlook” columns for the Journal, he deconstructed the results of similar policy in Massachusetts and its implications for Washington, warning that the changes would fail and do Democrats great political harm.

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