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Boston Globe wins Pulitzer for Marathon bombing coverage

One year after the Boston Marathon bombings, The Boston Globe was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in the breaking-news category for its multimedia coverage of the tragedy.

A packed newsroom applauded loudly as the award was announced Monday afternoon. Globe editor Brian McGrory said the prize, the Globe’s 23d overall, honored “each and every one” of the dozens of reporters, editors, photographers, graphic artists, designers, social media managers, and others who worked on the story over many grueling days and weeks.

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Asking for a moment of silence for the four people who lost their lives in the tragedy, McGrory noted that, “Nobody in this room wanted to cover this story, and we hope nothing like this ever occurs again on our watch.” Still, he added, the news media played a vital role in both keeping the community informed and helping it heal, “and when you faced the greatest challenge of your professional lives, you rose to the highest levels.”

Four Globe staffers were also named Pulitzer finalists. Photographers John Tlumacki and David L. Ryan were finalists for their iconic images captured at or near the Marathon finish line. Columnist Kevin Cullen was singled out for a series of columns he wrote concerning the bombings and the Whitey Bulger trial, among other topics. Editorial writer Dante Ramos was a finalist for his contributions to the paper’s “Open Up Boston” series.

In conferring its breaking-news award, the Pulitzer board cited the Globe’s “exhaustive and empathetic coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and ensuing manhunt that enveloped the city, using photography and a range of digital tools to capture the full impact of the tragedy.”

In an often emotional newsroom ceremony that lasted nearly a full hour, several senior Globe editors recalled the personal courage, sacrifice, and work ethic demonstrated by their colleagues while covering the story. Jennifer Peter, senior deputy managing editor for local news, said she was “proudest that we never once forgot the human toll of this tragedy.”

Another senior deputy managing editor, Mark Morrow, said the award marked a highlight of his 19 years at the paper.

Of the many Pulitzers earned over that time, Morrow said, this one “is the sweetest and most meaningful” because it “fused the talents and energy of virtually every soul in this building.”

Echoing what many said in the newsroom during Monday’s staff gathering, Morrow added, “You can’t plan for this sort of story. You simply have to be ready for it.”

The Washington Post and New York Times each won two prizes Monday. The Post won in explanatory reporting for coverage of the prevalence of food stamps in postrecession America, and in the public service category for its reporting on the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program. A separate gold medal for public service went to The Guardian US for reporting on the same topic.

The Times took home a pair of photography awards, in breaking news and feature photography. The latter went to Josh Haner for his photo essay on Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman, who lost most of both legs a year ago.

Other Pulitzer winners announced Monday were the Center for Public Integrity, for investigative reporting on health-stricken coal miners victimized by unscrupulous doctors and lawyers; The Tampa Bay Times, for local reporting on substandard housing for the city’s homeless population; The Colorado Springs Gazette for national reporting on the mistreatment of wounded combat veterans; and Reuters, for international reporting on human-trafficking networks in Myanmar.

Detroit Free Press columnist Stephen Henderson won the Pulitzer for commentary. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Inga Saffron earned the criticism prize for her architecture criticism. There was no award given this year for feature writing.

Other awards went to The (Portland) Oregonian for editorial writing and to Kevin Siers of The Charlotte Observer for editorial cartooning.

Local author Megan Marshall won the biography prize for “Margaret Fuller: A New American Life.” The Pulitzer board called it a “richly researched book” about the 19th-century author, journalist, and women’s rights advocate.

Marshall, 59, who lives in Belmont and teaches in Emerson College’s MFA program in writing, literature, and publishing, was struggling at her desk at 3 p.m. Monday, laboring over her latest book, when her editor called with the happy news. The award “infinitely” boosted her confidence, she said, adding that “Margaret Fuller should have won a Pulitzer” in her day — the awards did not exist then — but that she was “glad for her sake” to have won this honor.

Marshall’s book “The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism” was a 2005 Pulitzer finalist.

Winning in the drama category was “The Flick” by Amherst native Annie Baker, a play set in a Central Massachusetts art-house movie theater. It was produced last winter by Boston’s Company One theater in collaboration with Suffolk University. In a review, Globe theater critic Don Aucoin praised Baker’s dialogue as “remarkably expressive beneath its disjointed surface” and compared her to Harold Pinter for her skillful use of silence in communicating feelings and states of mind.

Donna Tartt’s sprawling coming-of-age novel “The Goldfinch” won the 2014 fiction award. Vijay Seshadri’s collection “3 Sections” captured the poetry prize. John Luther Adams’s orchestral work “Become Ocean” won in the music category.

Alan Taylor won the history prize for “The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832.” In general nonfiction, Dan Fagin won for “Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation.”

The Globe has won 23 Pulitzers since 1966 and a total of seven over the past dozen years. The last three went to critics Wesley Morris, Sebastian Smee, and Mark Feeney. Previously, Charlie Savage won a 2007 national reporting award and Gareth Cook a 2005 explanatory reporting award. In 2003, the Globe Spotlight Team won a public service award for its coverage of the priest sex-abuse scandal.

Also on hand for Monday’s awards announcement were former publisher Christopher Mayer, Globe chief executive officer Mike Sheehan, and owner-publisher John Henry. Mayer, who stepped down in January, said quality news organizations never set out to win awards, yet they are able to respond to breaking news events like the bombings because they have “a culture of excellence” that equips them to do great work.

Administered by Columbia University, the Pulitzers, which also honor achievements in music and letters, are considered to be journalism’s most prestigious awards. Other than the public service award, which come with a gold medal, prizes include a $10,000 cash award.

Mark Feeney and Nicole Lamy of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from wire services was also used. Joseph P. Kahn can be reached at joseph.kahn@globe.com.
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