'Wall Street Journal' Wins Two Pulitzers This year's Pulitzer Prizes for journalism went to shoe-leather reporting that uncovered local corruption and meticulous explanations of abuses of power. The Wall Street Journal won two awards, but regional papers also showed investigative strength.
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'Wall Street Journal' Wins Two Pulitzers

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'Wall Street Journal' Wins Two Pulitzers

'Wall Street Journal' Wins Two Pulitzers

'Wall Street Journal' Wins Two Pulitzers

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This year's Pulitzer Prizes for journalism went to shoe-leather reporting that uncovered local corruption and meticulous explanations of abuses of power. The Wall Street Journal won two awards, but regional papers also showed investigative strength.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

On the same day that reporters were scrambling to cover that deadly shooting spree at Virginia Tech, Columbia University announced the winners of the top prizes in journalism. Pulitzer prizes went to shoe-leather reporting that uncovered local corruption and meticulous explanations of abuses of power.

NPR's David Folkenflik reports.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: When President Bush used a so-called signing statement to say he wasn't bound by federal legislation banning torture that he had just signed, Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe took note.

Mr. CHARLIE SAVAGE (Reporter, The Boston Globe): This is an interesting kind of story because so much of it is hiding in plain sight. You don't need someone on the inside to leak you the documents. You just need to recognize what's happening.

FOLKENFLIK: In fact, Savage found the president was using those statements to defy both Congress and the Supreme Court on hundreds of laws. Savage's articles won the Pulitzer for national reporting.

Mr. SAVAGE: The expansion of presidential power versus Congress and the courts is one of the great phenomenon that we're living through, and yet it's one that has been sort of drowned out by less abstract stories which are also important such as, obviously, Iraq.

FOLKENFLIK: And indeed, no Pulitzer was given this year for reporting specifically on the war. Though the Wall Street Journal was given two awards for international reporting and public service, it was a year in which regional papers flexed their muscles.

The Miami Herald won in local reporting for revealing widespread abuses in the local housing authority; the Portland Oregonian won in breaking news for chronicling the tragic story of a family that had disappeared in the Oregon mountains.

New York Times metro reporter Andrea Elliott was seeking to chronicle life for Muslim immigrants in America. Here was what she e-mailed to her editors, perhaps a bit naively.

Ms. ANDREA ELLIOTT (Reporter, The New York Times): I proposed to report and write a series about the life and times of an American imam in the next six weeks, and it ended up taking me actually six months of intensive reporting and writing.

FOLKENFLIK: Readers responded warmly, especially non-Muslims who saw fellow Americans who shared many of the same aspirations. Some of the imam's Brooklyn, New York, congregation admired Elliott's articles, but others recoiled from the media attention and he left for another post in New Jersey.

Writers won at two lesser-known publications: exposes by the Birmingham, Alabama, News forced the ouster of leaders of the state community college system. And Jonathan Gold of the alternative L.A. Weekly won for his low rent but high concept food criticism.

The Pulitzer board also hands out awards in the arts. Historian Debby Applegate won for her biography of 19th century abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, Emory professor Natasha Trethewey won in poetry, and David Lindsay-Abaire won in drama for his play, "The Rabbit Hole."

The new Pulitzer winner for fiction is Cormac McCarthy for his post-apocalyptic novel, "The Road." Veteran journalists Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff won in history for their book on reporters who covered the civil rights movement. And we'll leave you this morning with this from jazz composer and saxophonist Ornette Coleman, "Sound Grammar."

(Soundbite of music)

FOLKENFLIK: Coleman is the 2007 winner of the Pulitzer Prize in music.

David Folkenflik, NPR News.

MONTAGNE: You can hear more "Sound Grammar" at npr.org, or listen right now.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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Ornette Coleman Wins Music Pulitzer

Today's Pulitzer Winners (partial list)

Cormac McCarthy The Road (fiction)

David Lindsay-Abaire Rabbit Hole (drama)

Natasha Trethewey Native Guard (poetry)

Lawrence Wright The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (general non-fiction)

Debby Applegate The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher (biography)

Renee C. Byer (feature photography)

Music from 'Sound Grammar'

Ornette Coleman's Pulitzer-winning recording features Ornette Coleman: saxophone, violin, trumpet; Denardo Coleman: drums; Gregory Cohen and Tony Falanga: basses.

Turnaround

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Sleep Talking

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Song X

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More on Today's Pulitzer Prize

Ornette Coleman has won the Pulitzer Prize for music with his recording Sound Grammar, a document of a 2005 concert recorded live in Italy.

Ornette Coleman, 77, has won the 2007 Pulitzer prize for music. Getty Images hide caption

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Getty Images

Coleman's music was not among the 140 music nominees. Pulitzer panelists used their prerogative to skirt traditional rules by purchasing the CD and nominating the 77-year-old jazz master. This is the first time a recording has won the music Pulitzer, and a first for purely improvised music.

The concert features an unorthodox line-up of instruments, including two double basses (one plucked, the other bowed), Colemans son Denardo on drums, and Coleman himself playing alto saxophone and trumpet.

Coleman has continued to shake up the jazz world ever since releasing his innovative recording The Shape of Jazz to Come in 1959.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1930, Coleman received his first saxophone at age 14. His mother saved money to buy the instrument by working as a seamstress. At first, Coleman struggled to find his own sound on the alto saxophone, but eventually developed his own formulas of composition, breaking down traditional definitions of harmony and melody.

The concept, called "Harmolodic," Coleman says, removes the caste system from sound.

Coleman has written music outside of the jazz realm, including string quartets, music for dance, woodwind quintets, and in the early 1970s, a symphony called Skies of America, composed with support from his Guggenheim Foundation Grant.

In 1994, Coleman earned a MacArthur Genius award, and has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

'Journal' Leads Way With Two Pulitzer Prizes

'Journal' Leads Way With Two Pulitzer Prizes

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This year's Pulitzer Prizes were announced this afternoon by Columbia University in New York. The Pulitzers honor American achievements in journalism, letters, drama and music.

The Wall Street Journal won two Pulitzers, one prize in international reporting for its coverage of China, and a public service award for a probe into back-dated stock options for business executives.

Brett Blackledge of the Birmingham News won a Pulitzer for investigative reporting. His series, on corruption in Alabama's community-college system, is ongoing.

The New York Times won a features Pulitzer for its look at a Muslim cleric in Brooklyn, and the Los Angeles Times won an explanatory-journalism prize for its series on environmental threats to oceans. Meanwhile, Walt Handelsman of Newsday won his second Pulitzer for editorial cartoons. He animates his work, puts it online, and he does all of the voices himself.

For a work of nonfiction, the winner was The Race Beat, a book about the role of the press in the Civil Rights movement. Co-author Hank Klibanoff told NPR last year that Southern segregation was challenged first, and most bravely, by African-American reporters.

"The black reporters were the first on the scene anywhere," he said. "They had a view of the black thought and the black community feeling about civil rights that white reporters did not venture in to find out."

The Pulitzer for fiction went to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which follows the harrowing path of a father and son in a post-apocalyptic America. The primal fear of parents losing children was also the subject of this year's Pulitzer winner in drama: David Lindsay-Abaire wrote the play Rabbit Hole, about parents mourning the accidental death of their 4-year-old son.

The Pulitzer for music went to saxophonist, composer and pioneer of free jazz, Ornette Coleman, who won for his recent recording Sound Grammar. He just turned 77.