From today’s Writer’s Almanac:
It was on this day in 1917 that the first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded. Here are some things you might not have known about Pulitzer Prizes:
- They’re announced each year in April and then awarded at Columbia University in May, during a luncheon at the campus library.
- Each Pulitzer Prize winner receives a $10,000 award and a certificate, except in the Public Service category, where the winner is given a gold medal. Only a newspaper, not an individual, can receive the Public Service prize for journalism.
- There are 21 Pulitzer categories. Two-thirds of the prizes (14) revolve around journalism. There are six for letters and drama (fiction, drama, history, biography, poetry, and general nonfiction), and there is one prize given for music.
- The Pulitzer Prize for fiction used to be called the Pulitzer Prize for the novel. The name was changed in 1948.
- Poet Robert Frost won the Pulitzer Prize four times. Playwright Eugene O’Neill also won four Pulitzer Prizes.
- The Pulitzer Prize is a very American award. Only U.S. citizens are eligible for the non-journalism Prizes. The exception to this is in the history category: a non-American can win the Pulitzer Prize if he or she wrote a book about the history of the United States. Foreign journalists can win Pulitzers if they write for a newspaper published in the United States.
- The New York Times holds the all-time record for number of Pulitzer Prizes received. The paper has collectively won 101 Pulitzers.
- Newspapers generally nominate themselves for Pulitzer Prizes. The fee for each entry is $50, and the material that the newspaper wants the prize board to consider must be accompanied by an entry form. An entry has to fit into one of the 21 categories; it can’t be submitted on the grounds that it is just generally good. To be eligible, a paper must be published in the U.S. at least weekly.
- In 2009, for the first time, online-only news organizations were eligible for the Pulitzer. Before, it was restricted to print publications.
- Decisions about prize winners are made by the Pulitzer board in secret. Afterward, the board does not publicly discuss or defend its decisions.