The Pulitzer Prizes showcased journalism's power to shine a powerful light on the forgotten or the unknown, and the awards honored work including stories from The Associated Press revealing the New York Police Department's widespread spying on Muslims and The Huffington Post's pieces about the suffering endured by American troops severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The AP won a Pulitzer for investigative journalism, while the national reporting prize went to the Huffington Post's David Wood. Other journalism winners in the awards announced Monday included another Pulitzer for investigative reporting awarded to The Seattle Times for a series about accidental methadone overdoses among patients with chronic pain.
In the arts categories, the late Manning Marable won the Pulitzer Prize for history, honored for a Malcolm X book he worked on for decades but did not live to see published. Quiara Alegria Hudes' play "Water by the Spoonful," which centers on an Iraq war veteran's search for meaning, won the Pulitzer for drama.
The New York Times won two prizes. David Kocieniewski was honored in the explanatory reporting category for a series on how wealthy people and corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes. Jeffrey Gettleman received the award for international reporting for his coverage of famine and conflict in East Africa.
The AP's series of stories _ available online at http://apne.ws/IrNyPk _ showed how New York police, with the help of a CIA official, created an aggressive surveillance program to gather intelligence on Muslim neighborhoods, businesses and houses of worship. It was the 50th Pulitzer won by the news organization.
The articles showed that police systematically listened in on sermons, hung out at cafes and other public places, infiltrated colleges and photographed people as part of a broad effort to prevent terrorist attacks. Individuals and groups were monitored even when there was no evidence they were linked to terrorism.
The series, which began in August, was by Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley. The stories prompted protests, a demand from 34 members of Congress for a federal investigation, and an internal inquiry by the CIA's inspector general. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have defended the program as a thoroughly legal tool for keeping the city safe.
"We kept reporting things that no one in the city of New York knew about," said AP's executive editor, Kathleen Carroll. "That's what I'm most proud of."
A year after the Pulitzer judges found no entry worthy of the prize for breaking news, The Tuscaloosa News of Alabama won the award for coverage of a deadly tornado. By blending traditional reporting with the use of social media, the newspaper provided real-time updates and helped locate missing people, while producing in-depth print coverage despite a power outage that forced the paper to publish at a plant 50 miles away.
The twister hit just after the news staff had had a session on how to use social media to cover the news, city editor Katherine Lee recalled.
"I think we won because the tornado hit where we live, and we all felt a responsibility to do this well, to tell our story well _ about how people came together to help total strangers," Lee said.
The judges declined to award a prize for editorial writing.
The Patriot-News and Sara Ganim, its police and courts reporter, won the local reporting Pulitzer for "courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Penn State sex scandal," the Pulitzer judges wrote.
The Philadelphia Inquirer _ which has recently gone through bankruptcy and repeated rounds of cutbacks and has changed hands five times in the past six years _ showed how school violence went underreported and earned the public service Pulitzer. In response, the school system established a new way of keeping track of serious incidents.
One of the winning reporters, John Sullivan, who has since left the paper for Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, was back Monday to celebrate with colleagues.
"This just gives us so much joy ... because we've seen what you guys have gone through the past 10 years, all that we've endured and seeing our friends walk out of the building," he told the newsroom, yet "everybody here just continues to do great journalism."
Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong of The Seattle Times looked at the consequences when patients with state-subsidized health care were moved from safer pain-control drugs to methadone, which is cheaper but carries more risks. "Not only is this wrong, but this is incredibly tragic," Berens said.
At The Huffington Post, Wood, a veteran military correspondent, looked at catastrophically wounded soldiers' physical and emotional struggles, as well as how their families, communities, comrades and doctors responded. It was only the second Pulitzer ever awarded for reporting that appeared online only.
The Stranger, a Seattle alternative weekly, won the feature writing award for a story about a woman who survived an attack that killed her partner.
Mary Schmich, a longtime Chicago Tribune columnist, was recognized with the commentary award for pieces that "reflect the character and capture the culture of her famed city," the judges said. Film critic Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe won the criticism award, for work the judges called "distinguished by pinpoint prose and an easy traverse between the art house and the big-screen box office."
In photography, Massoud Hossaini of Agence France-Presse won the breaking news award for his picture of a girl weeping after a suicide bomber attacked a crowded shrine in Afghanistan.
Craig F. Walker of The Denver Post won the feature photography award _ his second _ for his work on an Iraq war veteran's struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Politico's Matt Wuerker won the editorial cartooning prize for work that poked fun at partisan fighting in Washington.
John Lewis Gaddis' "George F. Kennan: An American Life," won the Pulitzer for biography. "Life on Mars," by Tracy K. Smith, won the poetry prize. The general nonfiction prize was given to "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern," Stephen Greenblatt's telling of the 15th century rediscovery of a masterpiece from ancient Rome, the poet Lucretius' "De Rerum Natura" ("On the Nature of Things").
Kevin Puts' "Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts" was honored for music. No prize was given for fiction.
The Pulitzer Prizes are given out annually by Columbia University on the recommendation of a board of journalists and others. Each award carries a $10,000 prize except for the public service award, which is a gold medal.
Associated Press writers David Crary, Verena Dobnik and Jennifer Peltz in New York; Chris Grygiel in Seattle; JoAnn Loviglio in Philadelphia; and Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pa., contributed to this report.
The AP series on the NYPD and Muslims is available at http://apne.ws/IrNyPk