Top Pulitzer Prizes go to ProPublica, N.Y. Times, small Santa Cruz, Calif., news site

ProPublica's reports on lavish gifts and favors handed out to several U.S. Supreme Court justices earned the nonprofit the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism on Monday. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

May 6 (UPI) -- This year's top Pulitzer Prizes for outstanding journalism were awarded Monday to the nonprofit online news outlet ProPublica, a Santa Cruz, Calif., community news site and the New York Times, among others.

Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott, Brett Murphy, Alex Mierjeski and Kirsten Berg of ProPublica were awarded the prestigious 2024 Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism for their "groundbreaking and ambitious" reporting on favors handed out by politically connected billionaires to several U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Their reports published last year "pierced the thick wall of secrecy" surrounding the court to expose "lavish gifts and travel" that prompted the court to adopt its first code of conduct, the Pulitzer committee said in a statement.

It was the seventh Pulitzer Prize for ProPublica.

In all, Columbia University's 108th Annual Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism, Letters, Drama and Music saw awards handed out in 23 categories, most of which earn the winners a certificate and $15,000 in cash.

The award for breaking news journalism was a surprise, going to the small community news website Lookout Santa Cruz for its coverage of the catastrophic January 2023 floods in Santa Cruz County.

This category in the past has been won by much larger and established newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Lookout deserved the honor for its "detailed and nimble community-focused coverage, over a holiday weekend, of catastrophic flooding and mudslides that displaced thousands of residents and destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses," the committee said.

Meanwhile, the much-coveted prize in investigative reporting went to Hannah Dreier of The New York Times for a "deeply reported" series of stories on the widespread exploitation of migrant child labor in the United States and the "corporate and governmental failures that perpetuate it."

Dreier also won the 2019 feature writing prize for her stories on criminal gang MS-13 while writing for ProPublica.

In all, the Times and the Washington Post each collected a trio of Pulitzer Prizes on Monday. The latter was a co-winner in the National Reporting category for a "sobering examination" on the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, which "forced readers to reckon with the horrors wrought by the weapon often used for mass shootings in America," the committee said.