NEW YORK (AP) — A collaboration between the Chicago Tribune and the Better Government Association on problems with fire safety regulations in the city received the Pulitzer for local reporting.
“Deadly Fires, Broken Promises” detailed city ordinances that are routinely ignored, such as one passed after a fire killed four children in 2014 that required fines on landlords who violate smoke detector regulations.
Cecilia Reyes of the Tribune and Madison Hopkins of the watchdog BGA found that fires killed 61 Chicagoans from 2014 through 2019 in buildings where the city had been warned about safety problems but failed to adequately address them.
The reporters found many of those fires occurred in low-income, minority neighborhoods.
The New York Times received the international reporting Pulitzer for a series of articles on U.S. drone strikes in the Middle East and patterns of targeting failures that led to civilian deaths.
Azmat Khan used the Freedom of information Act to obtain more than 1,300 credibility assessments from the Pentagon on drone strikes that took place between September 2014 and January 2018.
Her reporting found flawed intelligence, faulty targeting, and very little accountability and challenged the official accounts of strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
None of the records included a finding of wrongdoing or any disciplinary action. The reports also found that, despite numerous civilian deaths and injuries, fewer than a dozen condolence payments were made.
“It was a system that seemed to function almost by design to not only mask the true toll of American airstrikes but also legitimize their expanded use,” the Times reported.
The Tampa Bay Times won the investigative reporting Pulitzer for its series of articles on the exposure of workers and nearby residents to dangerous levels of lead at a battery recycling plant.
The three-part series “Poisoned,” by Corey G. Johnson, Rebecca Woolington and Eli Murray, documented how hundreds of workers at Gopher Resource were put in harm’s way when they extracted lead from used car batteries, melted it down and turned it into blocks of metal to resell.
The reports detailed the company’s use of inadequate equipment and ventilation in a building where systems designed to capture chemicals were either turned off or dismantled entirely.
The newspaper also obtained records that documented a pattern of pollution dating back to the 1960s and showed the plant had pumped more lead into the air than any other factory in Florida over the last two decades. It also found that polluted water was discharged into the Palm River, excessive levels of chemicals were sent into Tampa’s sewer system, and hazardous waste was mishandled.
Prompted by the reporting, investigating county regulators found more than two dozen possible violations.
The Pulitzer Prizes are set Monday to honor the best journalism from a tumultuous year that saw an insurrection, the frantic end of the United States’ longest war and fallout from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and catastrophic climate change.
The winners in 15 journalism categories and seven arts categories were to be announced Monday afternoon at Columbia University, which administers the awards. This year’s Pulitzers recognize work done in 2021.
The Pulitzers are considered the most prestigious honor in American journalism. Winners of each category get a prize of $15,000, except for the public service award, which comes with a gold medal.
The prizes were established in the will of newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer and first awarded in 1917.