Pulitzers give special award to Darnella Frazier, who filmed George Floyd’s murder

The Pulitzer Prizes recognize some of the year’s most important journalism. This year, someone who isn’t a professional journalist, but whose actions had as much impact as any, is among those being honored.

Darnella Frazier, who filmed the death of George Floyd, received a special citation, Aminda Marqués González, co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, announced Friday.

The board said Frazier was honored “for courageously recording the murder of George Floyd, a video that spurred protests against police brutality around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.”

The 2020 news cycle was dominated by the pandemic, altering every aspect of life including how newsrooms operated. News organizations also covered and were affected by a reckoning over racial injustice. And of course, there was the presidential election.

These three topics, unsurprisingly, were the coverage areas honored with Pulitzer Prizes, the most prestigious awards in American journalism, on Friday afternoon.

“The magnitude of these stories and the pace at which they unfolded pushed many in the news business to the limits of endurance,” Marqués González said during a live broadcast. “Much of the great work this year came against the backdrop of unfathomable loss as our colleagues and fellow citizens mourn the deaths of more than 600,000 people from COVID.”

The awards, administered by Columbia University, recognize reporting in newspapers, magazines and digital news outlets. This year’s announcement was originally scheduled for April 19. But it was postponed to June so that the board members could meet in-person to evaluate the entries rather than choosing the winners remotely.

The New York Times received this year’s prize for public service, which is commonly viewed as the Pulitzers’ highest honor.

“The prize is awarded to the New York Times for courageous, prescient and sweeping coverage of the coronavirus pandemic that exposed racial and economic inequities, government failures in the US and beyond, and fill the data vacuum that helped local governments, healthcare providers, businesses and individuals to be better prepared and protected,” the board said.

The Atlantic won its first Pulitzer, with staff writer Ed Yong receiving the Pulitzer for explanatory reporting. (Magazines first became eligible to win in all categories with the 2017 Pulitzers.) BuzzFeed News was also a first time winner, recognized for international reporting.

Here is the full list of prizes awarded on Friday:

PUBLIC SERVICE

The New York Times

BREAKING NEWS REPORTING

Staff of the Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minn.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

Matt Rocheleau, Vernal Coleman, Laura Crimaldi, Evan Allen and Brendan McCarthy of The Boston Globe

EXPLANATORY REPORTING

Ed Yong of The Atlantic

and

Andrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley, Andrea Januta, Jaimi Dowdell and Jackie Botts of Reuters

LOCAL REPORTING

Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times

NATIONAL REPORTING

Staffs of The Marshall Project; AL.com, Birmingham; IndyStar, Indianapolis; and the Invisible Institute, Chicago

INTERNATIONAL REPORTING

Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek of BuzzFeed News, New York

FEATURE WRITING

Nadja Drost, freelance contributor, The California Sunday Magazine

and

Mitchell S. Jackson, freelance contributor, Runner’s World

COMMENTARY

Michael Paul Williams of the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch

CRITICISM

Wesley Morris of The New York Times

EDITORIAL WRITING

Robert Greene of the Los Angeles Times

BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography Staff of Associated Press

FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY

Emilio Morenatti of Associated Press

AUDIO REPORTING

Lisa Hagen, Chris Haxel, Graham Smith and Robert Little of National Public Radio

SPECIAL CITATION

Darnella Frazier

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