The New Yorker Wins Two 2024 Pulitzer Prizes

Two works published by The New Yorker received Pulitzer Prizes on Monday, placing them among the year’s top achievements in journalism, letters, music, and drama.

Sarah Stillman, a staff writer, won in the explanatory-reporting category for her illuminating investigation of felony murder, a draconian legal doctrine that has sent thousands of Americans—disproportionately young and Black—to prison, sometimes for life, for killings they didn’t commit. “It’s truly one of the cruellest ideas in the American legal system,” one person told Stillman. “And most people don’t even know it exists.”

In its citation, the Pulitzer committee praised Stillman’s “searing indictment” of “the felony-murder charge and its disparate consequences, often devastating, for communities of color.”

The New Yorker’s other winner, Medar de la Cruz, received the Pulitzer in the illustrated-reporting-and-commentary category for “The Diary of a Rikers Island Library Worker,” which takes readers inside New York City’s largest jail complex. De la Cruz’s evocative drawings depict his deliveries of books to incarcerated people, offering the public a rare glimpse inside Rikers, where cameras and phones are banned and detainees are subject to conditions that have been harshly criticized by legal and human-rights organizations. “I’m always moved by the sense of gratitude and warmth that some people express when we’re able to get them the books that they asked for,” de la Cruz writes.

In honoring de la Cruz, the Pulitzer board cited his “bold black-and-white images that humanize the prisoners and staff through their hunger for books.”

Stillman has written for The New Yorker since 2011, on topics including human trafficking, the drug trade, and labor conditions at factories overseas. Her work has received two National Magazine Awards, two George Polk Awards, and a Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism. Stillman, a 2016 MacArthur Fellow, teaches investigative reporting at Yale and created the Global Migration Project at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

De la Cruz, a graduate of the ArtCenter College of Design, teaches visual communications at community workshops in New York City and is working on a graphic novel about his experiences on Rikers Island. His Pulitzer-winning New Yorker contribution was his first submission to the publication.

In addition to Stillman and de la Cruz, four New Yorker contributors were recognized by the Pulitzer committee. The staff writer Jay Caspian Kang was named a finalist in the commentary category for columns about the gulf between real-world injustices and how they are publicly discussed, including essays about the failed promise of affirmative action for Asian Americans and the racial politics of the N.B.A.

The staff writer Vinson Cunningham was named a finalist in the criticism category for theatre reviews that combined astute stage analysis with poignant reflections on life and death, art and politics, and identity and race. In recognizing Cunningham, the Pulitzer committee considered reviews of an unconventional Central Park production of “Hamlet” and a Broadway comedy about West African immigrants in a Harlem hair salon.

Angie Wang, a finalist in the illustrated-reporting category, was honored for an imaginative Sketchbook that contrasted the language-development skills of ChatGPT with those of her young son.

Justin Chang, who joined the publication’s staff in February, won in the criticism category for his writing about film at the Los Angeles Times.

With its 2024 awards, The New Yorker has won eight Pulitzer Prizes, including the gold medal for public service. Magazines became eligible for Pulitzer consideration starting in 2014. ♦

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