Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tiny Caribbean Paper Wins Journalism's Biggest Prize

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tiny Caribbean Paper Wins Journalism's Biggest Prize

Article excerpt

A tiny newspaper's fight against crime in the U.S. Virgin Islands and reporting and photography about the civil war in Rwanda won Pulitzer Prizes on Tuesday.

The 17,000-circulation Virgin Islands Daily News in St. Thomas, which has a staff of eight, won the public service award, the main journalism prize.

It garnered the prize for a 10-part series that tried to explain why the Virgin Islands - St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John - was a criminal's paradise and how $1 million worth of cocaine was stolen from police custody. The series led to the dismissal of the islands' police commissioner and attorney general and the arrest of 11 police officers.

Melvin Claxton, 37, the reporter who wrote the series, said: "It clearly showed police corruption, ineptitude and the inefficiency of the police department." Claxton spoke as he and his colleagues waited for the paper's publisher to arrive with champagne.

The Associated Press was among four organizations that won two awards. It won for coverage of the crisis in Rwanda - for international reporting by Mark Fritz and for feature photography in Rwanda by Jacqueline Arzt, Javier Bauluz, Jean-Marc Bouju and Karsten Thielker. The photographers' work included a searing picture of a teacher lying dead by his blackboard.

The other double winners were New York's Newsday, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

Newsday won the investigative reporting prize for showing that Long Island is "the police disability capital of New York state." In the previous decade, more than 600 officers had won tax-free pensions, some exceeding $75,000 a year for life - with no follow-up exams.

Reporters Brian Donovan and Stephanie Saul found supposedly disabled retirees who played vigorous sports (one was a weightlifter) and held demanding jobs, including that of lifeguard.

Jim Dwyer of Newsday won for his "compelling and compassionate columns about New York City," including those that told of how children at a Manhattan AIDS residence were dying.

A Washington Post team - reporter Leon Dash and photographer Lucian Perkins -won for explanatory journalism for "Rosa Lee's Story." In 1990, Dash asked Rosa Lee Cunningham for permission to write about her and her family. …

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