Pulitzer Prize

Pulitzer Prize

The Pulitzer Prize, PULL-it-sər, is an American award regarded as the highest national honor in newspaper journalism, literary achievements and musical composition. It is administered by Columbia University in New York City.

Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. In twenty of these, each winner receives a certificate and a US$10,000 cash reward. The winner in the public service category of the journalism competition is awarded a gold medal, which always goes to a newspaper, although an individual may be named in the citation.

The prize was established by Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian-American journalist and newspaper publisher, who left money to Columbia University upon his death in 1911. A portion of his bequest was used to found the university's journalism school in 1912. The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded on June 4 1917, and they are now announced each April. Recipients are chosen by an independent board. Ironically, Pulitzer, along with William Hearst, was one of the originators of yellow journalism.

Several of the more famous recipients of the Pulitzer Prize include Ernest Hemingway, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee and Toni Morrison for Fiction; Robert Frost for Poetry; Roger Ebert for Criticism; and Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Stephen Sondheim for Drama.

Notable winners of more than one Pulitzer Prize include David McCullough (twice) for Biography; Robert Frost (four times) for Poetry; Margaret Leech (twice) for History; Eugene O'Neill (four times), Edward Albee (three times), and August Wilson (twice) for Drama; and William Faulkner (twice), Norman Mailer (twice), John Updike (twice), and Booth Tarkington (twice) for Novel / Fiction. (This category's name was changed in 1948 from Novel to Fiction.)

Both Eugene O'Neill and Booth Tarkington accomplished the feat of winning the prize twice in a four-year period. Thornton Wilder is notable for winning prizes in more than one category—one in the Novel category and two in the Drama categories.


Awards are made in categories relating to newspaper journalism, arts, and letters. Only published reports and photographs by United States-based newspapers or daily news organizations are eligible for the journalism prize. Beginning in 2007, "an assortment of online elements will be permitted in all journalism categories except for the competition's two photography categories, which will continue to restrict entries to still images."

The current Pulitzer Prize category definitions in the 2008 competition, in the order they are awarded, are:

  • Public Service—for a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper through the use of its journalistic resources, which may include editorials, cartoons, and photographs, as well as reporting. Often thought of as the grand prize, the Public Service award is given to the newspaper, not to individuals, though individuals are often mentioned for their contributions.
  • Breaking News Reporting—for a distinguished example of local reporting of breaking news.
  • Investigative Reporting—for a distinguished example of investigative reporting by an individual or team, presented as a single newspaper article or series.
  • Explanatory Reporting—for a distinguished example of explanatory newspaper reporting that illuminates a significant and complex subject, demonstrating mastery of the subject, lucid writing, and clear presentation.
  • Local Reporting—for a distinguished example of local newspaper reporting that illuminates significant issues or concerns.
  • National Reporting—for a distinguished example of newspaper reporting on national affairs.
  • International Reporting—for a distinguished example of newspaper reporting on international affairs, including United Nations correspondence.
  • Feature Writing—for a distinguished example of newspaper feature writing giving prime consideration to high literary quality and originality.
  • Commentary—for distinguished commentary.
  • Criticism—for distinguished criticism.
  • Editorial Writing—for distinguished editorial writing, the test of excellence being clarity of style, moral purpose, sound reasoning, and power to influence public opinion in what the writer conceives to be the right direction.
  • Editorial Cartooning—for a distinguished cartoon or portfolio of cartoons published during the year, characterized by originality, editorial effectiveness, quality of drawing, and pictorial effect.
  • Breaking News Photography, previously called Spot News Photography—for a distinguished example of breaking news photography in black and white or color, which may consist of a photograph or photographs, a sequence, or an album.
  • Feature Photography—for a distinguished example of feature photography in black and white or color, which may consist of a photograph or photographs, a sequence, or an album.

There are six categories in letters and drama:

  • Fiction—for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life.
  • Drama—for a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life.
  • History—for a distinguished book on the history of the United States.
  • Biography or Autobiography—for a distinguished biography or autobiography by an American author.
  • Poetry—for a distinguished volume of original verse by an American author.
  • General Non-Fiction—for a distinguished book of non-fiction by an American author that is not eligible for consideration in any other category.

There is one prize given for music:

  • Pulitzer Prize for Music—for a distinguished musical contribution by an American that had its first performance or recording in the United States during the year.

There have also been a number of Special Citations and Awards.

In addition to the prizes, Pulitzer travelling fellowships are awarded to four outstanding students of the Graduate School of Journalism as selected by the faculty.


Pulitzer prizes are decided by the Pulitzer board. As of May 1, 2008, the current board members are:


The Pulitzer Prize Board distinguishes between "entrants" and "nominated finalists": An "entrant" is simply someone whose work has been submitted for consideration according to the Board's "Plan of Award"; any individual may submit an entry. "Nominated finalists" are those selected by the juries and (since 1980) announced along with the winner for each category. Only nominated finalists may properly be referred to as Pulitzer Prize "nominees.

Discontinued awards

Over the years, awards have been discontinued either because they have been expanded or renamed.

To find, for example, all the winners for investigative reporting, you have to also look back at the prize for local investigative specialized reporting, which previously was the prize for local reporting, no edition time.

Discontinued or merged categories include:


External links

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