Pulitzer Prizes 2021: USA TODAY Network honored with 3 nods, including win for Indy, 2 finalist citations for Louisville

Darnella Frazier, the teenager who recorded George Floyd’s murder, was honored with a Special Citation by the Pulitzer Prize board on Friday, illustrating the sweeping role citizens can play in journalism through social media.

Publications in Gannett’s USA TODAY Network also won a Pulitzer Prize award for journalism on Friday and were named finalists in two additional categories. 

The board that oversees the annual awards named The Indianapolis Star, also known as IndyStar, as a co-winner of the Pulitzer for National Reporting alongside the Chicago-based Invisible Institute, AL.com and the Marshall Project. They shared the prize for a collaborative investigation into the damage done by police dogs on Americans.

The Louisville Courier-Journal, also part of the USA TODAY Network, was named as a finalist in two categories, Public Service and Breaking News, for its comprehensive and revealing coverage of the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

Darnella Frazier, the teenager who recorded George Floyd's murder, was honored with a Special Citation by the Pulitzer Prize board on Friday, June 11. (Photo: PEN America)

It marks the second straight year in which the Courier-Journal has been honored by the Pulitzer board. In 2020, the publication won the Breaking News award for reporting on last-minute gubernatorial pardons in Kentucky.

“I could not be more proud or happy for this recognition and for the Courier-Journal,” said Maribel Perez Wadsworth, president of the USA TODAY Network. “Our journalists rose to meet every challenge 2020 brought to the communities we serve. They were relentless in pursuing truth and accountability. I am incredibly humbled to work with such talented, passionate, difference-making journalists.”

Other winners announced Friday included journalists producing work for The New York Times, The Associated Press, National Public Radio and Runner’s World.

The Indianapolis Star’s shared Pulitzer was awarded for a year-long investigation that revealed how police dogs have attacked and maimed people accused of petty crimes, bystanders and even officers. The journalists built a database of records detailing more than 150 severe incidents. 

Katrice Hardy, executive editor of The Indianapolis Star, said she was “absolutely stunned,” adding that she was reminded of the compelling work her staff did in collaboration with the other publications that were honored.

The Pulitzer Prizes are annual awards distributed to journalists, dramatists, authors and others. (Photo: Edward C. Baig)

“I think it says a lot about why we matter,” she said. “We have creatively figured out ways to aggressively go after the news that impacts our communities the most. I hope people see why they can’t do without us.”

The Pulitzer board recognized the Courier-Journal for its coverage of the killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker shot by white police serving a no-knock warrant. The publication obtained and published secretive records tied to the shooting, covered the street protests that ensued and unveiled insights into how no-knock warrants disproportionately target Black residents. The organization published more than 950 stories in the aftermath of Taylor’s death.

Mary Irby-Jones, the executive editor of the Courier-Journal, said she was thrilled to see the work of her journalists “validated.” 

THE COURIER-JOURNAL Ð Published in Louisville, Ky. (Photo: freedomforum.org)

“I don’t think that Breanna Taylor’s family would have seen the kind of justice that she saw if it had not been for their relentless, determined staff at the Courier-Journal that was willing to fight for public records,” said Irby-Jones, who was appointed editor in February. 

You can follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter here for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday morning.

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