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The Pulitzer Prize  is an award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the United States. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of American (Hungarian-born) publisher Joseph Pulitzer, and is administered by Columbia University in New York City. Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. In twenty of the categories, each winner receives a certificate and a US$10,000 cash award. The winner in the public service category of the journalism competition is awarded a gold medal.
The Pulitzer Prize does not automatically consider all applicable works in the media, but only those that have specifically entered. (There is a $50 entry fee, paid for each desired entry category.) Entries must fit in at least one of the specific prize categories, and cannot simply gain entrance for being literary or musical. Works can also only be entered in a maximum of two categories, regardless of their properties.
Each year, 102 judges are selected, by the Pulitzer Prize Board, to serve on 20 separate juries for the 21 award categories (one jury for both photography awards). Most juries consist of five members, except for those for public service, investigative reporting, beat reporting, feature writing and commentary categories, which have seven members. For each award category, a jury makes three nominations. The board selects the winner by majority vote from the nominations, or—75% majority vote—bypasses the nominations and selects a different entry. The board can also vote to issue no award. The board is not paid for its work. The jurors in letters, music, and drama get a $2000 honorarium for the year, and each chair gets $2500.
Anyone whose work has been submitted is called an entrant. The jury selects a group of nominated finalists and announces them, together with the winner for each category. However, some journalists who were only submitted, but not nominated as finalists, still claim to be Pulitzer nominees in promotional material.
For example, msnbc.com's Bill Dedman pointed out in 2012 that financial journalist Betty Liu was described as "Pulitzer Prize-Nominated" in her Bloomberg Television advertising and the jacket of her book, while National Review writer Jonah Goldberg made similar claims of "Pulitzer nomination" to promote his books. Dedman wrote, "To call that submission a Pulitzer 'nomination' is like saying that Adam Sandler is an Oscar nominee if Columbia Pictures enters That's My Boy in the Academy Awards. Many readers realize that the Oscars don't work that way—the studios don't pick the nominees. It's just a way of slipping 'Academy Awards' into a bio. The Pulitzers also don't work that way, but fewer people know that."
Newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer gave money in his will to Columbia University to launch a journalism school and establish the Prize. It allocated $250,000 to the prize and scholarships. He specified "four awards in journalism, four in letters and drama, one in education, and four traveling scholarships." After his death, the first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded June 4, 1917; they are now announced each April. The Chicago Tribune under the control of Colonel McCormick felt that the Pulitzer Prize was nothing more than a 'mutual admiration society' and not to be taken seriously; the paper refused to compete for the prize during McCormick's tenure up until 1961.
Many people have won more than one Pulitzer Prize. No one has won both a prize for arts and letters (left column) and one for journalism (right column, incomplete). Nelson Harding is the only person to have won a prize in two consecutive years, the Editorial Cartooning Pulitzer in 1927 and 1928.
The prize for Public Service is awarded only to news organizations, not individuals. Awards for journalism categories such as General News Reporting may be awarded to individuals or newspapers or newspaper staffs.
Awards are made in categories relating to newspaper journalism, arts, and letters and fiction. Only published reports and photographs by Beginning in 2007, "An assortment of online elements will be permitted in all journalism categories except for the competition's two photography categories, which will continue to restrict entries to still images." In December 2008 it was announced that for the first time content published in online-only news sources would be considered.
Definitions of Pulitzer Prize categories as presented in the 2008 competition:
There are six categories in letters and drama:
There is one prize given for music:
There have been dozens of Special Citations and Awards: more than ten each in Arts, Journalism, and Letters, and five for Pulitzer Prize service, most recently to Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. in 1985.
In addition to the prizes, Pulitzer travelling fellowships are awarded to four outstanding students of the Graduate School of Journalism as selected by the faculty.
Over the years, awards have been discontinued either because the field of the award has been expanded to encompass other areas, the award been renamed because the common terminology changed, or the award has become obsolete, such as the prizes for telegraphic reporting, which was based on the old technology of the telegram.
An example of a writing field that has been expanded was the former Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (awarded 1918–1947), which has been changed to the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, which also includes short stories, novellas, novelettes, and fictional poetry, as well as novels.
The 20-member board comprises major newspaper editors and executives and six academics including the president of Columbia University and the dean and administrator of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The administrator and the dean cannot vote. The board elects its own members for a three-year term (excluding the dean and the administrator). Members of the board and the juries are selected with close attention "given to professional excellence and affiliation, as well as diversity in terms of gender, ethnic background, geographical distribution and size of newspaper." Each year, the chair rotates to the most senior member. The board makes all prize decisions.
Some critics of the Pulitzer Prize have accused the organization of favoring those who support liberal causes or oppose conservative causes. Syndicated columnist L. Brent Bozell said that the Pulitzer Prize has a "liberal legacy", particularly in its prize for commentary. He pointed to a 31-year period in which only five conservatives won prizes for commentary. The claim is also supported by a statement from the 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary, Kathleen Parker: "It's only because I'm a conservative basher that I'm now recognized."
A 2012 academic study by journalism professor Yong Volz and Chinese University journalism professor Francis Lee found "that only 27% of Pulitzer winners since 1991 were females, while newsrooms are about 33% female." The study concluded that the majority of female "winners enjoyed access to greater resources than the average male winner," resources including such things as attendance at Ivy League schools, metropolitan upbringing, or employment with an elite publication such as the New York Times.
for more than two decades [...] the Tribune refused to compete for the awards.
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