NEW YORK — The Washington Post won six Pulitzer Prizes Monday, including awards for its coverage of shoddy treatment of America's war wounded at Walter Reed hospital and of the Virginia Tech massacre.
It was the biggest haul of Pulitzers in the Post's history. The Post's other awards included feature writing, for a story on world-class violinist Joshua Bell playing music in a subway station to gauge commuters' reaction, and national reporting for an examination of Vice President Dick Cheney's behind-the-scenes clout.
The New York Times received two Pulitzers: one for investigative reporting for stories on toxic ingredients in medicine and other products imported from China, and one for explanatory reporting for examining the ethical issues surrounding DNA testing.
Among the arts awards, rock 'n' roll finally broke through the Pulitzer wall with an honorary award to Bob Dylan, cited for his "profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."
Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a tragic but humorous story of desire, politics and violence among Dominicans at home and in the United States, won the fiction prize. The prize for drama went to Tracy Letts' August: Osage County, which, like Diaz's novel, combines comedy and brutality.
The awards were announced at a time of great distress in the newspaper industry, with circulation plummeting and advertisers fleeing to the Internet. Many newspapers have announced buyouts, layoffs and cutbacks in coverage.
"This is actually a boost to remind people that we can produce this kind of journalism at any time," said Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. The Post is going through its third round of buyouts since 2003.
The Post's series on Walter Reed sparked a political uproar, prompting Defense Secretary Robert Gates to fire Army Secretary Francis Harvey and a presidential commission to recommend numerous changes.
Three of the Post's winners formerly worked for the St. Petersburg Times — Dana Priest and Anne Hull, the Walter Reed reporters, and Jo Becker, one of the Post's winners for national reporting.
Hull worked at the St. Petersburg Times from 1984 to 2000, and during that time was a Pulitzer finalist three times. She is from the Tampa Bay area and is a trustee of St. Petersburg's Poynter Institute. Priest, who also won a Pulitzer in 2006 for stories about secret CIA prisons for terror suspects, worked at the paper for a year in the mid 1980s. Becker, now at the New York Times, was at the St. Petersburg Times from 1997 to 2000 and won the Livingston Award for local reporting in Pasco County in 1998.
The record for the most Pulitzers in one year is seven, won by the New York Times in 2002, mostly for Sept. 11 coverage.