- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 13, 2010


The 2009 Pulitzer Prizes were awarded Monday, and among the journalistic winners was the Bristol Herald Courier newspaper in Southwest Virginia, while the runners-up included former Washington Times photographer Mary F. Calvert, honored for her pictures depicting the systematic, brutal attacks on women in the Congo.

Ms. Calvert was a freelance photographer working for The Times when her pictures were published in September 2009. The Pulitzer board said the images “vividly document how rapes, by the tens of thousands, have become a weapon of war in Congo.”

Ms. Calvert, 51, said Monday she came upon the subject while researching stories on the Internet.

“It was as if I could hear these women screaming from the bottom of a well,” she said. “I just knew I had to tell that story.”

Ms. Calvert received money for the project through a grant she won from the White House News Photographers Association. She spent five weeks in the region with a Washington Times reporter.

“I’m completely thrilled,” said Ms. Calvert, who has twice been a Pulitzer finalist. “And I’m just happy to be nominated because this means more people will know about these women and this atrocity of rape as a tool of war.”

The prizes have been given annually since 1917 through the Columbia University Journalism School and are considered the highest honor in the field. The Pulitzer board recognizes stories reported online and in print. Prizes also were awarded Monday for letters, drama and music.

The Bristol Herald Courier won the Public Service award for exposing the “murky mismanagement of natural-gas royalties owed to thousands of land owners in Southwest Virginia, spurring remedial action by state lawmakers,” according to the board.

Reporter Dan Gilbert, 27, joined the paper as a staff writer in December 2007. He covers legal affairs in Southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee. His reporting duties also include enterprise projects, from conducting a yearlong investigation of the natural-gas industry to leading a staff project that found widespread irregularities in the financial-disclosure statements of elected officials.

He graduated from the University of Chicago in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in international studies.

The prize for Breaking News was awarded to the Seattle Times staff for its coverage of the shooting deaths in December of four police officers in a coffeehouse and the 40-hour manhunt for the suspect.

The Investigative Reporting prize was awarded to Sheri Fink of ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine for a story about the “life-and-death decisions” made by a team of exhausted doctors in a hospital cut off by the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina, according to the board.

ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom dedicated to investigative journalism. The board said it moved the story from the Feature Writing category, where it was originally submitted.

The Explanatory Reporting prize was given to Michael Moss and members of the New York Times staff for their “relentless reporting” on contaminated hamburger and other food-safety issues that pointed out defects in federal regulation and led to improved practices,” the board said.

The local reporting award went to Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for what the board called her “penetrating reports” on the fraud and abuse in a child care program for low-wage working parents that “fleeced taxpayers and imperiled children.” The reporting resulted in a state and federal crackdown on providers.

Matt Richtel and members of the New York Times staff won the National Reporting award for their “incisive work” on the hazardous use of cell phones, computers and other devices while operating cars and trucks, stimulating widespread efforts to curb distracted driving, according to the board.

The prize for reporting on international affairs went to Washington Post reporter Anthony Shadid “for his rich, beautifully written series on Iraq as the U.S. departs and its people and leaders struggle to deal with the legacy of war and to shape the nation’s future,” board members said. Mr. Shadid won the same prize in 2004. The Post overall won four prizes — the others being Gene Weingarten for feature-writing, Kathleen Parker for column-writing, and Sarah Kaufman for criticism.

The Dallas Morning News won for their editorials depicting the city’s social and cultural divide. The board said writers Tod Robberson, Colleen McCain Nelson and William McKenzie wrote “relentless editorials deploring the stark social and economic disparity between the city’s better-off northern half and distressed southern half.”

The arts awards also were given out Monday, and the high-profile drama prize went to the musical “Next to Normal,” which the board praised for “grappl[ing] with mental illness in a suburban family and expands the scope of subject matter for musicals.”

“While I am really flattered when people say we have changed the form of musicals, I don’t know if that is true. Certainly, the show is adventurous,” Brian Yorkey, who wrote the book and lyrics, told the Associated Press.

The board also gave a posthumous Special Citation to country singer Hank Williams for his “craftsmanship as a songwriter who expressed universal feelings with poignant simplicity and played a pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life.”

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