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Seattle takes two Pulitzers

NEW YORK – The Seattle Times won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism Monday for a series about accidental methadone overdoses among patients with chronic pain.

Seattle journalist Eli Sanders, 34, associate editor of The Stranger, won the Pulitzer in feature writing for his story, “The Bravest Woman in Seattle,” about a South Park woman who survived the brutal 2009 attack by Isaiah Kalebu that took the life of her partner.

The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., and a 24-year-old reporter captured the award for local reporting for breaking the Penn State scandal that ultimately brought down Joe Paterno.

Another Pulitzer for investigative journalism was awarded to the Associated Press for revealing the New York Police Department’s widespread spying on Muslims.

In a reflection of the forces reshaping the media world, the turmoil-ridden Philadelphia Inquirer won in the public service category for exposing pervasive violence in the city’s schools, while David Wood earned a Pulitzer in national reporting for a relative newcomer, the Huffington Post, for stories about the suffering endured by American troops severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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. And Jeffrey Gettleman received the award for international reporting for his coverage of famine and conflict in East Africa.

The AP 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.

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.

The judges declined to award a prize for editorial writing.

At the Patriot-News, Sara Ganim, a police and courts reporter, won for “courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Penn State sex scandal,” the Pulitzer judges wrote. Ganim broke the news of the grand jury investigation into allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. She was also the first to report his indictment on charges of molesting several boys involved in a charity he ran. Sandusky has denied the allegations.

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. In response, the school system established a new way of keeping track of serious incidents.

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.

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.”


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