'Washington Post' Takes Six Pulitzer Prizes The Washington Post won six Pulitzer prizes, including the public service medal for exposing shoddy treatment of America's war wounded at Walter Reed hospital, and the breaking-news award for coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre.
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'Washington Post' Takes Six Pulitzer Prizes

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'Washington Post' Takes Six Pulitzer Prizes

'Washington Post' Takes Six Pulitzer Prizes

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

The Pulitzer prizes are out today, and the Washington Post dominated the journalism awards. It's a record year for the newspaper. Post writers won in six categories including national reporting, international reporting and breaking news. The Pulitzers also recognized outstanding achievement in American music, drama, and letters.

NPR's Neda Ulaby reports.

NEDA ULABY: When a couple of Washington Post reporters began visiting outpatient facilities at Walter Reed hospital, they could barely believe their eyes.

Ms. ANNE HULL (Enterprise Reporter, Washington Post): Many rooms had mold, there were mice infestation in the building, roaches.

ULABY: That's Anne Hull, in an NPR interview when the story broke last year.

With Dana Priest, she won a public service Pulitzer for exposing the conditions in which injured U.S. soldiers lived. The series took months of investigation.

Ms. HULL: We didn't go through the army for permission, nor did we go through Walter Reed. We went to the soldiers, removing that middle filter because we wanted to hear what their lives were like, and that required lots of time with these people as they went through their days.

The Washington Post's sweep included a Pulitzer for feature writing. Gene Weingarten won for managing to coax an acclaimed classical violinist into posing as a subway busker.

(Soundbite of music)

The musician, Joshua Bell, told NPR he gave Weingarten credit for dreaming up such an interesting gimmick.

Mr. JOSHUA BELL (Classical Violinist): He really wanted to see how people react to music when you're not expecting it or when it's out of context. Most people just ignored it altogether.

ULABY: The local news Pulitzer went to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and playwright Tracy Letts was awarded the Pulitzer for drama. His "August: Osage County" is running now on Broadway. It concerns a wildly dysfunctional Oklahoma family.

(Soundbite of play)

Ms. DEANNA DUNAGAN (Actress): (As Violet Weston) There's an Indian in my house.

Ms. AMY MORTON (Actress): (As Barbara Fordham) They're called Native Americans now, mom.

Ms. DUNAGAN: Who called them that? Who makes that decision?

Ms. MORTON: It's what they liked to be called.

Ms. DUNAGAN: They aren't any more native than me.

Ms. MORTON: In fact, they are.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ULABY: The fiction Pulitzer went to first-time novelist Junot Diaz, for "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao." It weaves together elements ranging from the history of the Dominican Republic to obscure fanboy references, all salted with vernacular Spanish.

Diaz told NPR last year he wanted readers to be seduced and disoriented.

Mr. JUNOT DIAZ (Novelist; Author, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao"): I wanted everybody at one moment to feel kind of like an immigrant in this book, that there would be one language chain that you might not get. And that it was okay, like it might provoke in you a reaction to want to know, and that's good, because it will make you go look and read other books and start conversation.

ULABY: Musician Bob Dylan was awarded a special citation, but the Pulitzer for music went to David Lang for a work called "The Little Match Girl Passion," inspired in part by Bach's "St. Matthew Passion."

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. DAVID LANG: And I imagined what it would be like to tell this same story, somehow replacing the suffering of Jesus with the suffering of something else.

ULABY: That something else, Lang says, was a child's story that locks together beauty and horror, morality and danger. Like most of the Pulitzer winners this year, it is not a pretty story.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

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