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Stories Behind This Year's Pulitzer Prize Winners


And the mission of journalism was celebrated again yesterday. The annual Pulitzer Prizes went to journalists at newspapers both large and small. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has more on three stories that stood out.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: When news of the Ebola virus hit West Africa, the New York Times quickly mobilized its correspondents and photographers to the region. The Pulitzer committee called their coverage courageous front-line reporting. Lead editor Gregory Winter.

GREGORY WINTER: There were a lot of risks, and we were dealing with a virus that health officials and international agencies were struggling with how to deal with as well.

DEL BARCO: The New York Times reporting staff was awarded a Pulitzer - so was freelance photographer Daniel Bearihulack, who worked with Winter's team.

DANIEL BEARIHULACK: We had a picture of a 4-year-old girl lying on the floor of what passed for a hospital. Nobody helping her - people just locking her into a ward and waiting for her to die. That was an extremely poignant moment for all of us.

DEL BARCO: The Wall Street Journal began its investigation of Medicare five years ago. John Carreyrou was one of the lead reporters.

JOHN CARREYROU: The health care debate was raging at the time. Obamacare hadn't been passed. It was under discussion, and we thought we could do some smart stories from the data. And when we approached the government, they flatly told us, no.

DEL BARCO: In court, the Journal successfully challenged limits on Medicare information.

CARREYROU: It's a watershed moment in government transparency that we made happen. The Medicare billing and payment information for all the doctors and all the laboratories and all the ambulance companies and a number of other providers who participate in the Medicare program are now public.

DEL BARCO: After news erupted in Ferguson, Mo., that police had shot teenager Michael Brown, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was on the scene. Editor Gilbert Baillon says his photography staff earned a Pulitzer for capturing many of the story's most important moments.

GILBERT BAILLON: There was a protester who was wearing an American flag shirt who was throwing back a canister of tear gas towards the police - became very iconic and was shown around the world. And then there were others - the police presence as well as looters coming out of the stores as they were looting. Up close - we had a photographer extremely close - almost, you know, dangerously close to - as that was going on in the chaos.

DEL BARCO: Photographer David Carson recalls being inside a convenience store while it was being looted.

DAVID CARSON: I was confronted by a guy with a gun inside the QuikTrip.

DEL BARCO: Carson's images earned him a prize for breaking news photography.

CARSON: You know, I'm sad that, you know, the events that we've won the Pulitzer for started with the loss of a young man's life. But I am proud of the way our paper responded and covered the community in its outpouring of grief and protest.

DEL BARCO: And those are the stories behind just some of this year's 22 Pulitzer Prize winners. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.

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