NEW YORK (AP) — It was a list no state wanted to top. And when South Carolina was ranked as having the highest rate of women being killed by men, The Post and Courier of Charleston set out to explore why.
Starting in 2013, the newspaper began an investigation that has spurred proposals for reform and on Monday won the Pulitzer Prize for public service.
The New York Times collected three Pulitzers and the Los Angeles Times won two as the awards honored news outlets large and small. The 70,000-circulation Daily Breeze of Torrance, California, won the local reporting award for exposing corruption in a school district, while the 84,000-circulation Post and Courier was recognized for examining the deaths of 300 women in the past decade.
"We felt so passionate about this project, and we felt so passionate about the difference it could bring to South Carolina," Publisher P.J. Browning said.
Since the series was published, state lawmakers have proposed tougher penalties for domestic violence, and Gov. Nikki Haley created a task force to investigate the problem.
The Seattle Times took the breaking news award for covering a mudslide that killed 43 people and exploring whether the disaster could have been prevented.
"When public officials were saying, 'Oh, this was unforeseen,' we showed that it was not unforeseen," Editor Kathy Best told staffers.
The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal both won investigative reporting prizes, the Times for an examination of lobbyists' influence on state attorneys general, the Journal for detailing fraud and waste in the Medicare payment system.
The Times' coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa won Pulitzers for international reporting and feature photography, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was honored in the breaking news photography category for images of racial unrest touched off by the deadly police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
The Washington Post took the national reporting prize for exposing security lapses that spurred an overhaul of the Secret Service.
The Los Angeles Times' prizes were for feature writing that put a human face on California's drought and for Mary McNamara's television criticism.
Bloomberg News was a first-time winner, taking the explanatory reporting award for an examination of corporate tax dodging.
The commentary prize went to the Houston Chronicle's Lisa Falkenberg, who examined justice issues including the case of a man wrongfully convicted of killing a police officer. The editorial writing winner, Kathleen Kingsbury of The Boston Globe, chronicled restaurant workers' low wages and the toll of income inequality.
Adam Zyglis of The Buffalo News won the editorial cartooning prize for his look at such issues as immigration and gun control.
The Pulitzers, established by newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer and first given out in 1917, are American journalism's highest honor. The public service award consists of a gold medal; the other awards carry a prize of $10,000 each.
In the prizes' arts categories, Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See," an emotional and intimate World War II novel, won for fiction. The drama prize went to Stephen Adly Guirgis's "Between Riverside and Crazy," a dark comedy about a cantankerous ex-cop and the hard-luck orphans who become his surrogate family.
The Pulitzer for general nonfiction went to "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History," Elizabeth Kolbert's exploration of the impact of human behavior on the natural world. David I. Kertzer's "The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe" won for biography-autobiography. "Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People," by Elizabeth A. Fenn, won for history.
Gregory Pardlo's "Digest" captured the poetry prize, and Julia Wolfe's "Anthracite Fields" won for music.
Associated Press writers Bruce Smith in Charleston, South Carolina; Chris Grygiel in Seattle; Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, New York; and Deepti Hajela and Verena Dobnik in New York contributed to this report.