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Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 08:47 GMT 09:47 UK
Pulitzer's lasting legacy
Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer is a distinguished Pulitzer winner
The Pulitzer Prize has established itself as the premier award in the US for arts and journalism since it was first awarded in 1917.

Traditionally the prizes have been associated with journalism, but more than 20 prizes are handed out each year, celebrating the best in photography, non-fiction and literature.

Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway: A winner in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea
The awards were established by Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian-born journalist and newspaper publisher, with a legacy left in his will drawn up in 1904.

They are administered by Columbia University on the recommendation of a panel of advisors.

The literature awards have gone to respected authors such as John Updike, Toni Morrison, Carol Shields, Alice Walker, Norman Mailer, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemmingway and Harper Lee.

Awards board

On a number of occasions the board has decided not to present a prize for literature because it felt no book merited an award.

The photography prize has gone to some of the most iconic images of the last century, including Joe Rosenthal's 1943 image of American soldiers capturing Mount Suribachi and Slava Veder's image of a soldier returning home to his family from the Vietnam War.

Previous winners of the journalism awards include Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward at The Washington Post in 1973 for their uncovering and reporting of the Watergate scandal involving Richard Nixon.

Last year the reporting team at the Denver Post won the award for its coverage of the Columbine High School shootings in 1999.

Non-US citizens can win Pulitzer prize in the journalism categories, but only if their work has appeared in a US newspaper.

'British' winner

Last year, British-born, but US raised, author Jhumpa Lahiri won the literature prize for her novel Interpreter of Maladies.

Colonel Robert L. Stirm returns home to his family
Slava Veder's Pulitzer winning photograph for the Associated Press
The award has not been without controversy - Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bells Toll failed to win the award in 1941 to widespread surprise and in 1963 sexual permissiveness in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is thought to have cost the playwright the prize.

Last year the prize for investigative reporting went to the Associated Press for its report into how American soldiers early in the Korean War killed hundreds of Korean civilians in a massacre at the No Gun Ri Bridge.

But the veracity of the report was called into question when the report team's key witness to the events admitted he had been nowhere near the massacre when it happened.

Joseph Pulitzer, is regarded as a pioneer of modern journalism, a self-taught Hungarian who went to America in an effort to enlist as a soldier.

He was a newspaper publisher at the age of 25, having taught himself English.

Government corruption

His papers specialised in investigative journalism, exposing government corruption and wealthy tax dodgers.

But he also gained a reputation for sensationalism when he entered into a circulation war with rival William Randolph Hearst.

But his campaigning style of journalism is what is best remembered by historians - most notably exposing a fraudulent payment of $40m to the French Panama Canal Company by the United States.

See also:

04 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Pulitzer poet Gwendolyn Brooks dies
11 Oct 00 | Talking Point
Does poetry matter?
07 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Atwood wins Booker Prize
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