DALLAS (AP) – The Dallas Morning News photography staff received journalism’s highest honor, the Pulitzer Prize, for pictures revealing New Orleans’ suffering and devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“We were so proud of the courage, resilience and skill of our photo staff who delivered magnificent images for our readers around the world every day after this storm,” said Editor Robert W. Mong Jr. after the announcement Monday. “We couldn’t be happier.”
Associated Press photographer Eric Gay, based in San Antonio, was a finalist for the same award for Breaking News Photography, also for photos of Katrina’s aftermath.
“We’re extraordinarily proud that Eric’s stellar, moving work has been recognized by the Pulitzer judges,” said Kristin Gazlay, AP deputy managing editor for national news.
“We are proud to have Eric recognized in this very competitive category,” said Dale Leach, AP chief of bureau in Texas. “This entry is indicative of the excellent work and dedication to craft Eric exhibits every day.”
The Morning News photos included a striking aerial image of the clouded city submerged with highway interchanges and rooftops jutting out from the gray water. Another aerial shot showed a stranded family standing on a rooftop amid unfinished pleas for help scrawled with a last scrap of chalk.
Mong said photographers worked long days, slogged through deep grimy water and went without food or drink for long periods to get the images.
This is the photography department’s fourth Pulitzer and the first one to go its entire staff, said director of photography William Snyder.
The staff received $10,000 in prize money the department has not yet decided how to divvy up, Snyder said.
Gay, among a team of AP photographers covering Katrina, submitted powerful photos of New Orleans refugees, including a woman weeping along a flooded street, the body of her husband wrapped up like a mummy on the ground behind her.
He said he was humbled at being a finalist.
“It is an incredible story in photos,” Gay said.
The Pulitzer committee also awarded its History prize to David M. Oshinsky, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, for his book, “Polio, An American Story.”
Oshinsky chronicled the nation’s race to find a cure for Polio, drawing from the newly available papers of scientists such as Jonas Salk.
Columbia University presents the awards based on recommendations from an 18-member Pulitzer board, which considers nominations from jurors in each category.