The Pulitzer Prizes

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The Pulitzer Prize is named after Joseph Pulitzer, the founder. The program’s website describes him as follows

“…Pulitzer was the most skillful of newspaper publishers, a passionate crusader against dishonest government, a fierce, hawk-like competitor who did not shrink from sensationalism in circulation struggles, and a visionary who richly endowed his profession…” (Topping and Gissler)

            Joseph Pulitzer established the Pulitzer Prizes in his will in 1904 in order to encourage excellence not only in journalism, but also in letters and drama, education and music. The journalism award is bestowed upon the most objective and laudable reporters for writing articles in public service during the previous year. The actual prize given is a gold medal. Currently cash is presented instead of the gold medal. The president of Columbia University presents the winners with the momey in April after the Pulitzer Prize Board gives recommendations (Topping and Gissler).

            The journalism award categories currently include public service, breaking news reporting, investigative reporting, explanatory reporting, local reporting, and nine others. The staff of The Washington Post won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting. Investigative journalism is a process that involves deep fact-finding on a topic of interest and uncovering all facts related to it. The process takes time, usually months but could extend to years. The reporters of The Washington Post carried out investigations and wrote eight articles about a candidate with a history of sexual encounters with teenage girls. Their work on this story led to their win. The Pulitzer Prizes website wrote the following on issuing the 2018 investigative reporting award to the winners

“For purposeful and relentless reporting that changed the course of a Senate race in Alabama by revealing a candidate’s alleged past sexual harassment of teenage girls and subsequent efforts to undermine the journalism that exposed it.”(The Pulitzer Prizes)

            The above award was won because the journalists were focused and persistent in reporting the matter. They were not dissuaded by efforts by the candidate to frustrate their work. Sexual harassment is a serious matter of public interest and as described later it changed the course of a senate race. The articles captured the spirit of the journalism awards as envisioned by Joseph Pulitzer. 

Summary of the articles that led to the award

            The eight articles, written by the journalists between November 9, 2017 and December 4, 2017, endeavour to expose the reprehensible past of senate candidate for Alabama, Roy Moore. They report on his response to the allegations as well as attempts to make The Washington Post seem biased against him. The reporters also dig into Moore’s shady deals with a charity. The last article presents more evidence on his past sexual history. The staff gathered information from women involved with Moore as teenagers. A total of seven women were interviewed. They shared details about being approached and sexually harassed by Moore. The youngest was a 14 year old while the oldest was 18 years at the time. There was no actual intercourse but they claimed that he touched them inappropriately and kissed them. The women gave details about their first meeting with him and the subsequent relationships. He denied the allegations and termed them false (The Pulitzer Prizes). 

Personal assessment of articles

The journalists cover the stories of women sexually harassed by Moore in details. The first victim, named Leigh Corfman, is reported to have repeated her story consistently six times. The other women also gave details about their relationship with him, and even volunteered that their friends be interviewed for the same. Moore’s reaction was mostly political rhetoric claiming that the allegations were false and an attempt to cast him in bad light by the Democratic Party and the Washington Post. He also initially said he recognized two of the women but backtracked later saying he did not know any of them. Based on these considerations the women's stories must be plausible and the reports by the journalists credible

Difficulties in gathering information

The main difficulty with covering the stories was the attempt to discredit them by planting a false witness to try and gauge the personal opinions of the reporters on the story. This attempt was done by a company called Project Veritas. The CEO to Project Veritas refused to comment when they were caught in the act. The idea of the company was to paint the reporters as biased against Moore but it did not succeed due to vigilance by the newspaper staff. The other difficulty was in convincing the victims to speak up after years of silence. However after the first woman, Corfman, shared her story the others followed suit. All the women allowed the writers to publish their names and images lending credibility to their stories.


The outcome from the article is that Roy Moore lost the Alabama senatorial race to democrat candidate Doug Jones. The republicans had held the seat for more than two decades before this. The loss can be attributed to the sexual misconduct allegations against him during the campaign period (Kane; Jacobs and Smith). This is a reason to consider the stories by The Washington Post staff as history shaping investigation, and renders the staff as deserving of the Pulitzer Prize received.

Annotated bibliography for conclusion

Jacobs, Ben and David Smith. Alabama election: Democrats triumph over Roy Moore in major blow to Trump. The Guardian,

13th December 2017, Accessed 17 December 2018.

This news article by Jacobs and Smith, a political reporter and bureau chief respectively for The Guardian discusses the loss of the senate seat by Roy Moore attributing it to the sexual misconduct allegations and a blow to Trump.  The magazine is reputable the world over thus their contributors must strive to write reliable and truthful pieces.

Kane, Paul. Roy Moore’s loss in Alabama was a self-inflicted wound by Senate GOP. The Washington Post, 12 December 2017, Accessed 17 December 2018.

This news article by Kane, a senior congressional correspondent and columnist for the Washington Post, discusses the Roy Moore’s loss and the Republican Party’s complacency. The sexual misconduct allegations are also given due attention as a cause of the loss. The newspaper is also reputable the world over thus must be credible.

Works Cited

Jacobs, Ben and David Smith. Alabama election: Democrats triumph over Roy Moore in major blow to Trump. The Guardian,

13th December 2017, Accessed 17 December 2018.

Kane, Paul. Roy Moore’s loss in Alabama was a self-inflicted wound by Senate GOP. The Washington Post, 12 December 2017, Accessed 17 December 2018.

The Pulitzer Prizes. The 2018 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Investigative Reporting. The Pulitzer Prizes, 2018, Accessed 17 December 2018.

Topping, Seymour and Sig Gissler. History of The Pulitzer Prizes. The Pulitzer Prizes, 2018, Accessed 17 December 2018.

September 11, 2023



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