For its coverage of the police killing of George Floyd, and the landscape-altering racial reckoning that fanned out across the world from Minneapolis in its aftermath, the staff of the Star Tribune on Friday was named winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News.
The Pulitzer Board called the Star Tribune's coverage of Floyd's death under the knee of former police officer Derek Chauvin and captured on a cellphone by teenager Darnella Frazier, "urgent, authoritative and nuanced."
Frazier received a Pulitzer special citation for her bravery in capturing video of Floyd's death at 38th and Chicago. That video swiftly changed the narrative of what happened that evening, going viral and sparking protests both locally and internationally.
Star Tribune journalists covered the rage in Minneapolis, where protesters burned buildings including a police station.
A Hennepin County jury in April returned two murder convictions against Chauvin.
"Our staff poured its heart and soul into covering this story. It has been such a traumatic and tragic time for our community," Star Tribune Editor Rene Sanchez said in a statement following the announcement. "We felt that our journalism had to capture the full truth and depth of this pain and the many questions it renewed about Minnesota and the country."
The Pulitzer Prize is one of journalism's most prestigious honors. Friday's prize is the fifth for the Star Tribune.
Minnesota author Louise Erdrich won for her novel "The Night Watchman," and Graywolf Press also published the poetry winner, "Postcolonial Love Poem." The Associated Press and The New York Times each won two Pulitzer Prizes on Friday.
The feature photography prize went to AP's chief photographer in Spain, Emilio Morenatti, who captured haunting images of an older couple embracing through a plastic sheet, mortuary workers in hazmat gear removing bodies and of people enduring the crisis in isolation.
The breaking news prize for protest coverage was shared by 10 AP photographers. One widely reproduced photograph by Julio Cortez on the night of May 28 in riot-torn Minneapolis shows a lone, silhouetted protester running with an upside-down American flag past a burning liquor store.
The New York Times won its public service prize for pandemic coverage the judges said was "courageous, prescient and sweeping coverage" and "filled the data vacuum" for the general public. Wesley Morris of the Times won for criticism touching on the intersection of race and culture.
The Boston Globe received the investigative reporting Pulitzer for a series demonstrating how poor government oversight imperils road safety. The series detailed how the United States lacks an effective national system to keep track of drivers who commit serious offenses in another state. It also reported how the increasingly deadly trucking industry operates with minimal federal government oversight.
The prize for explanatory reporting was shared by two recipients, including Reuters. Ed Yong of The Atlantic won for a series of deeply reported and accessible articles about the pandemic.