At promptly 3 pm at the Graduate School of Journalism, Sig Gissler,
administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, announced the 2006 winners. By
announced, I mean that press kits that had a list of winners and other
information about them were made available to those present. And by those
present, I mean approximately ten journalists and a dozen other people
affiliated with the school. All of the journalists then proceeded to open
their cell phones and read the winners to their respective news
organizations. Overheard: “Yes, you were a finalist in Public Service.
Bye.” “You’ve never heard of Mike Luckovich? I don’t know what rock you
live under.”

Since 1917, Pulitzer Prize jurors for each category
have nominated three selections to be considered by the board, which then votes on two finalists and a winner. Gissler described the
process as “often complicated,” as it is possible to override the jury¹s
rejection of any submission with a 3/4 vote by the board. Such was the
special case this year, as the board awarded the New Orleans Times-Picayune in the Public Service and Breaking News categories for coverage of Hurricane Katrina although those pieces had not made it through the first round of judging. Also apparent this year was the absence of a Drama Award, as the board did not find majority support for any one of the plays nominated.

Amid much criticism of the news media, Gissler said the winners this year are “heartening-examples of high-quality journalism.” He noted the watchdog function of some of the winning pieces, including the Washington Post‘s reporting of the Abrahamoff Abramoff scandal and the New York Times’ exploration of domestic wiretapping. Gissler also noted the inclusion of online journalism (ostensibly the local Katrina coverage) into the selection process, and pointed out the somewhat rare “Special Citation” awards given to the historian Edmund S. Morgan (American Slavery, American Freedom) and
posthumously to Thelonius Monk. “The board feels [these awards] are fully
deserved for lifetime achievement,” he said.

Update: 2006 Pulitzer Prize Winners

Jessica Cohen