NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer Prize for public service Monday for a series exposing how politicians in the struggling, working-class city of Bell, Calif., were paying themselves enormous, six-figure salaries.
The newspaper’s reporting that officials in the 37,000-resident town were jacking up property taxes and other fees in part to cover the huge salaries led to arrests and the ouster of some of Bell’s top officials.
The Times won a second Pulitzer for feature photography, and The New York Times won two Pulitzers for international reporting and for commentary.
But in a year in which the earthquake in Haiti and the disastrous gulf oil spill were some of the biggest stories, the Pulitzer board decided not to give an award in the category of breaking news.
The board named three finalists for the award: The Chicago Tribune for its coverage of the deaths of two Chicago firefighters; The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald for its reporting on the Haiti earthquake; and The Tennessean in Nashville, Tenn., for its coverage of a devastating flood.
The nonprofit ProPublica won its first outright Pulitzer for national reporting. Reporters Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein were cited for their piece exposing questionable Wall Street practices that contributed to the national economic meltdown. The judges cited their use of digital media to help explain the complex subject.
The competition’s rules were changed this year to allow digital media to be considered along with text entries, including video, graphics and online databases. Media were allowed to enter “any available journalistic tool” this year, including videos, databases and multimedia presentations. In the past, most entries were print-only.