South Florida

Sun Sentinel wins Pulitzer; Herald’s ‘Dirty Gold’ series a finalist

The South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette won Pulitzer Prizes on Monday and were recognized along with the Capital Gazette of Maryland for their coverage of mass shootings in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a synagogue, and a newsroom itself.

The Sun Sentinel’s prize was in the public service category, the top honor, for its coverage of the 17 deaths at Stoneman Douglas and the security shortcomings that contributed to the carnage.

The Associated Press won in the international reporting category for documenting the humanitarian horrors of Yemen’s civil war, while The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal were honored for delving into President Donald Trump’s finances and breaking open the hush-money scandals involving two women who said they had affairs with him.

Cclockwise from top left: Kyra Gurney, Nicholas Nehamas, Jay Weaver and Jim Wyss. Miami Herald Archive

Two other Florida news organizations were finalists in the Pulitzers, including the Miami Herald for “Dirty Gold/Clean Cash,” a report on how Miami’s gold trade fuels gangs, guns and profits in Latin America while degrading the rain forest; and “Heartbroken,” a series by the Tampa Bay Times documenting the alarming rate of patient fatalities following Johns Hopkins’ takeover of a pediatric heart treatment facility.

The Post-Gazette received the prize in the breaking news category for its reporting on the synagogue rampage that left 11 people dead. The man awaiting trial in the attack railed against Jews before, during, and after the massacre, authorities said.

After the Pulitzer announcement, the newsroom in Pittsburgh observed a moment of silence for the victims. At the Sun Sentinel, too, the staff took in the award in a sober spirit.

“We’re mindful of what it is that we won for,” Editor in Chief Julie Anderson said. “There are still families grieving, so it’s not joy, it’s almost … I don’t know how to describe it. We’re emotional, as well.”

So, too, at the Capital Gazette, which was given a special citation for its coverage and courage in the face of a massacre in its own newsroom. The Pulitzer board also gave the paper an extraordinary $100,000 grant to further its journalism.

“Clearly, there were a lot of mixed feelings,” said Rick Hutzell, editor of Capital Gazette Communications. “No one wants to win an award for something that kills five of your friends.”

The Annapolis-based newspaper published on schedule, with some help from The Baltimore Sun, the day after five staffers were shot and killed in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history. The man charged had a longstanding grudge against the paper.

The Pulitzers reflected a year when journalism also came under attack in other ways.

Reuters won an international reporting award for work that cost two of its staffers their liberty: coverage of a brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims by security forces in Myanmar.

Reporters Wa Lone and KyawSoeOo are serving a seven-year sentence after being convicted of violating the country’s Official Secrets Act. Their supporters say the two were framed in retaliation for their reporting.

Reuters also won the breaking news photography award for images of Central and South American migrants heading to the United States, while The Washington Post was honored in the feature photography category for images of the famine in Yemen.

Other winners included Washington Post book critic Carlos Lozada for criticism, freelance cartoonist Darrin Bell, and the Los Angeles Times for its stories that revealed hundreds of sexual abuse accusations against a recently retired University of Southern California gynecologist. Also honored were the Advocate of Louisiana for work that led to a ban on an unusual custom that allowed non-unanimous jury verdicts, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for stories about poor people being thrown in jail for failing to pay for previous jail stints, The New York Times for editorial writing on the nation’s racial history and ProPublica for its coverage of Salvadoran immigrants affected by a federal crackdown on the MS-13 gang.

The Miami Herald reporting team on “Dirty Gold/Clean Cash“ was a finalist in the explanatory news category. It consisted of Kyra Gurney, Nicholas Nehamas, Jay Weaver and Jim Wyss. The journalists traveled from Appalachian Ohio to the rain forests of Peru and Colombia in their investigation of environmentally ruinous gold mining and its connection to Miami as well as to money laundering and the drug trade.

The four reporters have signed a deal to expand their reporting for the Herald into a book, which will be published by PublicAffairs.

The Kansas City Star, which like the Miami Herald is owned by McClatchy, was a finalist in the commentary category for a series of articles on institutional sexism and misogyny.