2012 Pulitzer Prize

The 2012 Pulitzer Prizes were awarded on April 16, 2012 by the Pulitzer Prize Board for work during the 2011 calendar year. The deadline for submitting entries was January 25, 2012. For the first time, all entries for journalism were required to be submitted electronically. In addition, the criteria for the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting has been revised to focus on real-time reporting of breaking news.[1] For the eleventh time in Pulitzer's history (and the first since 1977), no book received the Fiction Prize.[2]

Reaction to fiction prize decision

A three-member panel nominated three books, which were then sent to the 20-member Pulitzer Prize Board. Because no book received a majority of the votes from the board members, no prize was given.[3] This was the first time since 1977, and the eleventh time in Pulitzer history that there was no winner in the fiction category.

Maureen Corrigan, a jury member, responded to the board's decision by saying, "We nominated three novels we believe to be more than Pulitzer-worthy – David Foster Wallace's The Pale King, Karen Russell's Swamplandia! and Denis Johnson's Train Dreams. That the board declined to award the prize to any of these superb novels is inexplicable."[3]

Jury member Michael Cunningham wrote a lengthy two-part essay in The New Yorker called "What Really Happened This Year" that described the process of selecting the shortlist titles and reaction to no prize being chosen.[4]

Lev Grossman, book critic for Time, wrote that, "I support the Pulitzer board's decision not to give out an award for fiction this year."[5] He argued that "great" novels are relatively rare, and that there are years in which a "masterpiece" will not be published. He also cautioned against the glut of book awards, writing, "It bothers me to see great work neglected, but it bothers me almost as much to see mediocre books over-praised."

In reaction, The New York Times invited eight literary experts to pick their winners for the prize.[6] The experts and their picks were Sam Anderson and Macy Halford: The Pale King by David Foster Wallace; Maud Newton: Pym by Mat Johnson; Gregory Cowles: The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson; Garth Risk Hallberg: The Angel Esmeralda by Don DeLillo; Laila Lalami: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett; Alexander Chee: Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones, and John Williams: Open City by Teju Cole.


There were 21 prizes awarded in three categories. The prizes were announced on April 16, 2012.[7] Each prize is accompanied by a payment of US$10,000[8][9] The winners and finalists are listed below.


Public Service[10]
The Philadelphia Inquirer "for its exploration of pervasive violence in the city’s schools".
The Miami Herald "for its exposure of deadly abuses and lax state oversight in Florida’s assisted-living facilities for the elderly and mentally ill".
The New York Times "for the work of Danny Hakim and Russ Buettner that revealed rapes, beatings and more than 1,200 unexplained deaths over the past decade of developmentally disabled people in New York State group homes".
Breaking News Reporting[11]
The Tuscaloosa News staff "for its enterprising coverage of a deadly tornado".
The Arizona Republic staff "for its comprehensive coverage of the mass shooting that killed six and wounded 13, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, an exemplary use of journalistic tools, from Twitter to video to written reports and features".
Wisconsin State Journal staff "for its energetic coverage of 27 days of around-the-clock protests in the State Capitol over collective bargaining rights".
Investigative Reporting[12]
Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley of the Associated Press "for their spotlighting of the New York Police Department’s clandestine spying program that monitored daily life in Muslim communities".
Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong of The Seattle Times "for their investigation of how a little known governmental body in Washington State moved vulnerable patients from safer pain-control medication to methadone".
Gary Marx and David Jackson of The Chicago Tribune "for their exposure of a neglectful state justice system that allowed dozens of brutal criminals to evade punishment by fleeing the country, sparking moves for corrective change".
Explanatory Reporting[13]
David Kocieniewski of The New York Times "for his lucid series that penetrated a legal thicket to explain how the nation’s wealthiest citizens and corporations often exploited loopholes and avoided taxes."
Tom Frank of USA Today for his sharply focused exploration of inflated pensions for state and local employees, enhancing stories with graphic material to show how state legislators pump up retirement benefits in creative but unconscionable ways".
The Wall Street Journal staff "for its tenacious exploration of how personal information is harvested from the cellphones and computers of unsuspecting Americans by corporations and public officials in a largely unmonitored realm of modern life".
Local Reporting[14]
Sara Ganim and members of The Patriot-News Staff, (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) "for courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Penn State sex scandal".
Staff of California Watch "for its rigorous probe of deficient earthquake protection in the construction of public schools across the state".
A.M. Sheehan and Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling of The Advertiser Democrat (Norway, Maine) "for their tenacious exposure of disgraceful conditions in federally supported housing in a small rural community".
National Reporting[15]
David Wood of The Huffington Post "for his riveting exploration of the physical and emotional challenges facing American soldiers severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan during a decade of war".
Jeff Donn of the Associated Press "for his diligent exposure of federal regulators easing or neglecting to enforce safety standards as aging nuclear power plants exceed their original life spans".
Jessica Silver-Greenberg of The Wall Street Journal "for her compelling examination of aggressive debt collectors whose often questionable tactics, profitable but largely unseen by the public, vexed borrowers hard hit by the nation’s financial crisis".
International Reporting[16]
Jeffrey Gettleman of The New York Times "for his vivid reports, often at personal peril, on famine and conflict in East Africa".
The New York Times staff "for its powerful exploration of serious mistakes concealed by authorities in Japan after a tsunami and earthquake devastated the nation, and caused a nuclear disaster".
Thomson Reuters staff for "its well-crafted reports on the momentous revolution in Libya that went beyond battlefield dispatches to tell the wider story of discontent, conflict and the role of outside powers".
Feature Writing[17]
Eli Sanders of The Stranger (Seattle) for The Bravest Woman in Seattle, "his haunting story of a woman who survived a brutal attack that took the life of her partner".
John Branch of The New York Times for Derek Boogaard: A Boy Learns to Brawl, "his deeply reported story of Derek Boogaard, a professional hockey player valued for his brawling, whose tragic story shed light on a popular sport’s disturbing embrace of potentially brain-damaging violence".
Corinne Reilly of The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Virginia) for A Chance in Hell, "her inspiring stories that bring the reader side-by-side with the medical professionals seeking to save the lives of gravely injured American soldiers at a combat hospital in Afghanistan".
Mary Schmich of The Chicago Tribune "for her wide range of down-to-earth columns that reflect the character and capture the culture of her famed city".
Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times "for his valorous columns that transport readers into dangerous international scenes".
Steve Lopez of The Los Angeles Times "for his engaging commentary on death and dying, marked by pieces on his own father’s rapid physical and mental decline".
Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe "for his smart, inventive film criticism".
Philip Kennicott of The Washington Post "for his ambitious and insightful cultural criticism, taking on topical events from the uprisings in Egypt to the dedication of the Ground Zero memorial".
Tobi Tobias "for work appearing on ArtsJournal.com that reveals passion as well as deep historical knowledge of dance".
Editorial Writing[20]
(No prize awarded)
Paula Dwyer and Mark Whitehouse of Bloomberg News "for their analysis of and prescription for the European debt crisis, dealing with important technical questions in ways that the average readers could grasp".
Tim Nickens, Joni James, John Hill and Robyn Blumner of Tampa Bay Times (Tampa, Florida) "for editorials that examined the policies of a new, inexperienced governor and their impact on the state".
Aki Soga and Michael Townsend, of The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, Vermont) "for their campaign that resulted in the state’s first reform of open government laws in 35 years".
Editorial Cartooning[21]
Matt Wuerker of POLITICO "for his consistently fresh, funny cartoons, especially memorable for lampooning the partisan conflict that engulfed Washington."
Matt Bors, syndicated by Universal Uclick "for his pungent work outside the traditional style of American cartooning"
Jack Ohman, The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon) "for his clever daily cartoons and a distinctive Sunday panel on local issues in which his reporting was as important as his artistic execution".
Breaking News Photography[22]
Massoud Hossaini of Agence France-Presse "for his heartbreaking image of a girl crying in fear after a suicide bomber’s attack at a crowded shrine in Kabul".
Carolyn Cole and Brian van der Brug of The Los Angeles Times "for their illumination of epic disasters in Japan, documenting the brutality of nature as well as the durability of the human spirit".
John Moore, Peter Macdiarmid, and Chris Hondros of Getty Images "for their brave coverage of revolutionary protests known as the Arab Spring".
Feature Photography[23]
Craig F. Walker of The Denver Post "for his compassionate chronicle of an honorably discharged veteran, home from Iraq and struggling with a severe case of post-traumatic stress".
David Guttenfelder, Ng Han Guan, and Rafael Wober of the Associated Press "for their extraordinary portrayal of daily life inside the reclusive nation of North Korea".
Francine Orr of The Los Angeles Times "for her poignant portrait of the suffering by desperate families and misunderstood children who live with autism".

Letters and drama

(No prize awarded)
Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes
Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz
Sons of the Prophet by Stephen Karam
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
Empires, Nations & Families: A History of the North American West, 1800–1860 by Anne F. Hyde
The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan
Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America by Richard White
Biography or Autobiography[27]
George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis
Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution by Mary Gabriel
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith
Core Samples from the World by Forrest Gander
How Long by Ron Padgett
General Non-Fiction[29]
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt
One Hundred Names For Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing by Diane Ackerman
Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men by Mara Hvistendahl


Pulitzer Prize for Music[30]
Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts by Kevin Puts
Death and the Powers by Tod Machover
The Companion Guide to Rome by Andrew Norman

Special Citation

Not awarded in 2012.


The Pulitzer Prizes Board 2011–2012:[31]

  1. Danielle Allen, UPS Foundation Professor, School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J.
  2. Jim Amoss, Editor, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, La. (Co-chair)
  3. Randell Beck, President and Publisher, Argus Leader Media, Sioux Falls, S.D.
  4. Robert Blau, Managing Editor for projects and investigations, Bloomberg News, New York, N.Y.
  5. Lee Bollinger, President, Columbia University, New York, N.Y.
  6. Kathleen Carroll, Executive Editor and Senior Vice President, Associated Press (Co-chair)
  7. Joyce Dehli, Vice President for News, Lee Enterprises
  8. Junot Díaz, Author and Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  9. Thomas Friedman, Columnist, The New York Times, New York, N.Y.
  10. Paul Gigot, Editorial Page Editor, The Wall Street Journal, New York, N.Y.
  11. Sig Gissler, Administrator, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York, N.Y.
  12. Steven Hahn, Roy F. and Jeanette P. Nichols Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  13. Nicholas Lemann, Dean, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York, N.Y.
  14. Ann Marie Lipinski, Curator, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. (Co-chair)
  15. Gregory Moore, Editor, The Denver Post, Denver, Colo.
  16. Eugene Robinson, Columnist and Associate Editor, The Washington Post
  17. Margaret Sullivan, Editor, The Buffalo News, Buffalo, N.Y.
  18. Paul Tash, Chairman and CEO, Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.
  19. Jim VandeHei, Executive Editor and Co-founder, Politico
  20. Keven Ann Willey, Vice President/Editorial Page Editor, The Dallas Morning News


  1. ^ "Pulitzer.org". Pulitzer.org. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  2. ^ Staff (April 17, 2012). "Book lovers react bitterly to no fiction Pulitzer". Reuters. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Bloomgarden-Smoke, Kara (April 17, 2012), "Why wasn't there a Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction this year?", The Christian Science Monitor, retrieved April 17, 2012
  4. ^ Michael Cunningham (July 9, 2012). "Letter from the Pulitzer Fiction Jury: What Really Happened This Year". The New Yorker. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  5. ^ Grossman, Lev (April 18, 2012), "Prize Fight: Why I'm Okay With There Being No Pulitzer for Fiction This Year", Time, retrieved April 17, 2012
  6. ^ "The Great Pulitzer Do-Over". New York Times. May 7, 2012. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  7. ^ Columbia University Office of Communication and Public Affairs (April 16, 2012). COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES 96th ANNUAL PULITZER PRIZES IN JOURNALISM, LETTERS, DRAMA AND MUSIC (accessed 29 December 2012)
  8. ^ "Pulitzer.org" (PDF). Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  9. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners". Pulitzer.org. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  10. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Public Service".
  11. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Breaking News Reporting".
  12. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Investigative Reporting".
  13. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Explanatory Reporting".
  14. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Local Reporting".
  15. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, National Reporting".
  16. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, International Reporting".
  17. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Feature Writing".
  18. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Commentary".
  19. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Criticism".
  20. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Editorial Writing".
  21. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Editorial Cartooning".
  22. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Breaking News Photography".
  23. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Feature Photography".
  24. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Fiction".
  25. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Drama".
  26. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, History".
  27. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Biography or Autobiography".
  28. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Poetry".
  29. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, General Non-Fiction".
  30. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Music".
  31. ^ "Pulitzer Prize Board 2011–2012". The Pulitzer Prizes.

External links

Adam Goldman

Adam Goldman is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist. He received the award for covering the New York Police Department's spying program that monitored daily life in Muslim communities and for his coverage of the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.Adam Goldman has been a reporter with the national security team at the Washington Post from 2013 to 2016. He joined the New York Times in August 2016 where he covers the FBI and counterterrorism.Goldman graduated from the University of Maryland in 1995 and has written the book Enemies Within with Matt Apuzzo.

David Wood (journalist)

David Bowne Wood is a journalist who has reported on war and conflict around the world for 35 years. He won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, for a series on the American troops severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. A birthright Quaker, Wood registered as a conscientious objector in 1963 and served two years of civilian service before becoming a journalist.A graduate of Temple University, Wood was a correspondent for Time magazine in Chicago, Boston and Nairobi, where he covered guerrilla wars across Africa from 1977 to 1980.

Eileen Sullivan

Eileen Sullivan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist known for her work covering counter-terrorism and national security for The Associated Press and The New York Times.

John Lewis Gaddis

John Lewis Gaddis (born 1941) is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University. He is best known for his work on the Cold War and grand strategy, and has been hailed as the "Dean of Cold War Historians" by The New York Times. Gaddis is also the official biographer of the seminal 20th-century American statesman George F. Kennan. George F. Kennan: An American Life (2011), his biography of Kennan, won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.

Karen Russell

Karen Russell (born July 10, 1981) is an American novelist and short story writer. Her debut novel, Swamplandia!, was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She was also the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" in 2013. In 2009 the National Book Foundation named her a 5 under 35 honoree.

Life on Mars (poetry collection)

Life on Mars is a poetry collection by Tracy K. Smith for which she won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. The collection is an elegy for her father, a scientist who worked on the Hubble telescope.

Mara Hvistendahl

Mara Hvistendahl is an American writer. Her book Unnatural Selection was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.

Massoud Hossaini

Massoud Hossaini (born December 10, 1981) is a photojournalist for Agence France-Presse and winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography.

Hossaini was born in Kabul during the Soviet–Afghan War, but his family fled to Iran when he was six months old after his father was arrested for opposing the communist government. After graduating high school in 1996, Hossaini became a political activist with the Iranian reform movement and began recording events with his camera, including Afghani refugees in Mashhad.

He was stuck in the American University of Afghanistan attack and wrote SOS message on Twitter on August 24, 2016.After the September 11 attacks, he returned to Afghanistan to join Aina, a French cultural organization and studied with photographer Manoocher Deghati. He joined AFP in 2007.His work is featured in the American documentary Frame by Frame.

Other Desert Cities

Other Desert Cities is a play by Jon Robin Baitz. The play premiered Off-Broadway in January 2011 and transferred to Broadway in November 2011, marking the Broadway debut of a Baitz play. The play was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Other Desert Cities involves a family with differing political views and a long-held family secret.

Quiara Alegría Hudes

Quiara Alegría Hudes (born 1977) is an American playwright and composer. She wrote the book for the musical In the Heights. Her play Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. She won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Water by the Spoonful.

Sara Ganim

Sara Elizabeth Ganim (born September 9, 1987) is an American journalist, now a correspondent for CNN. Previously she was a reporter for The Patriot-News, a daily newspaper in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There she broke the story that featured the Sandusky scandal and the Second Mile charity. For the Sandusky/Penn State coverage, "Sara Ganim and members of The Patriot-News Staff" won a number of national awards including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, making Ganim the third youngest winner of a Pulitzer. The award cited "courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Sandusky sex scandal involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky."

Silent Night (opera)

Silent Night is an opera by composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell. As Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts the work had its world premiere at the Ordway Theater, Saint Paul, Minnesota, on November 12, 2011 under the directorship and dramaturgy of Eric Simonson. As Silent Night, the opera had its East Coast premiere at the Philadelphia Academy of Music on February 8, 2013. It premiered in the Southwest at Bass Performance Hall with Fort Worth Opera on May 4, 2014. The European premiere took place on October 24, 2014, at the Wexford Festival Opera in Ireland. In 2014 the work was staged at the Calgary Opera and the Cincinnati Opera, it was performed at the Atlanta Oper and in 2015 it was performed at the Opéra de Montréal and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. It received its West Coast premiere at Opera San Jose on February 11th, 2017. The Glimmerglass Festival presented the opera in 2018. It won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Silent No More (book)

Silent No More: Victim 1's Fight for Justice Against Jerry Sandusky is a 2012 book by Aaron Fisher, identified as "Victim 1" in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. Fisher is called "Victim 1" because it was his reporting his abuse to high school officials that set off the investigation that led to Sandusky's conviction. The book follows Fisher's experience from the beginning of his interaction with Jerry Sandusky at The Second Mile through Sandusky's conviction of 45 of 48 counts related to child sex abuse.Fisher's psychologist, Michael Gillum, was a co-author of the book, writing 21 of 30 chapters; Fisher and his mother wrote the other 9. Fisher said that he wrote the book with the hopes of encouraging all victims of abuse to come forward. Fisher revealed that he had contemplated suicide during the 3-year-long investigation. The Patriot News reporter Sara Ganim, who won a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for her reporting on the Sandusky scandal, raised issues with the fact-checking quality of the book, which she described as "[hitting] shelves just four months after Sandusky’s conviction, and it shows."Fisher sat for an interview with Christopher Cuomo on 20/20 shortly before the book was released.

Sons of the Prophet

Sons of the Prophet is a play by Stephen Karam. It is a comedy-drama about a Lebanese-American family and was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Companion Guide to Rome

The Companion Guide to Rome is a composition for string trio by the American composer Andrew Norman. The complete work was first performed on May 30, 2010 by the Scharoun Ensemble at Radialsystem V in Berlin. The composition was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Water by the Spoonful

Water by the Spoonful is a play by Quiara Alegría Hudes. It won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Hudes had previously won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical for In the Heights.

Wesley Morris

Wesley Morris (born 1975) is an American journalist, film critic and podcast host. He is currently critic-at-large for The New York Times, as well as co-host, with Jenna Wortham, of the Times podcast Still Processing. Previously, Morris wrote for The Boston Globe, then Grantland. He won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for his work with The Globe.

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