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This month, from a steep pink staircase overlooking The New York Occasions’s newsroom, Dean Baquet, the chief editor, introduced that the employees had gained the Pulitzer Prize for public service for its protection of the coronavirus.
The Occasions, which has obtained 132 Pulitzers since they have been first awarded in 1917, has gained within the public service class, considered essentially the most prestigious of the prizes, six instances. Wesley Morris, a Occasions critic at giant, additionally obtained a Pulitzer, his second, for criticism for his writing on the intersection of race and tradition in America.
The Pulitzer board acknowledged a number of aspects of the coronavirus protection. The Occasions reported early on the outbreak in China in January 2020. Tracked circumstances throughout the nation and the world by way of an intensive knowledge undertaking. Relayed developments 24 hours a day. Reported on the race to grasp the virus and the failure of governments to reply. Documented racial and social inequities of the pandemic. Offered vivid accounts of struggling worldwide. And noticed the monumental loss of life toll.
That protection encompassed not simply articles however graphics, video, knowledge journalism, design, images and podcasting. The hassle drew upon the total assets of the newsroom, with many employees members placing themselves at private threat and others taking over new roles to fulfill the calls for of the protection or present help. And all of it was executed with almost all staff working remotely and as The Occasions additionally coated the nation’s racial unrest, the influence of local weather change and a tumultuous presidential marketing campaign and election.
Talking to staff, a lot of whom have been watching the livestreamed awards ceremony at house, Mr. Baquet, together with different newsroom leaders, mirrored on what it meant to be honored at the moment.
“I simply need to pause for a second on the total energy of those prizes and what they are saying about what you achieved in a 12 months when a lot of you suffered from your personal loss and disruption,” he mentioned. “Actually, a whole bunch of individuals had a hand on this protection.”
A key element of the protection was a monitoring undertaking that compiled virus knowledge on quite a lot of measures. The Occasions launched the info, which has been utilized by medical researchers and authorities officers.
Greater than 100 individuals from throughout the newsroom, in addition to 50 freelancers and college students, have labored on the monitoring effort. Reporters and researchers filed greater than 700 public data requests for knowledge on populations like nursing houses and prisons. Engineers created a database to handle a whole bunch of information sources.
The workforce has now revealed greater than 3,000 every day monitoring pages, protecting topics that embody nation, state and county traits, reopenings and vaccinations.
“It was simply the biggest and doubtless essentially the most bold knowledge undertaking our newsroom has ever taken on,” Archie Tse, the graphics director, mentioned.
On the similar time, the Nationwide desk helped reveal the disproportionate toll that the virus took on individuals of coloration. And when the general U.S. loss of life toll reached 100,000 individuals, a workforce of journalists marked the staggering determine with a entrance web page consisting of victims’ names and biographical particulars.
“We strove each day to not be so centered on the numbers that we forgot the individuals behind them,” mentioned Marc Lacey, an assistant managing editor and the previous Nationwide editor.
On the Well being and Science desk, journalists adopted the efforts to clarify how the virus unfold, its impact on the physique and the event of a vaccine. Members of the desk edited greater than 1,100 on-line articles on the virus and assisted different journalists within the newsroom on a whole bunch extra.
“We coated Ebola and Zika, however none of us had ever skilled such a ravenous starvation for science information,” mentioned Celia Dugger, the Well being and Science editor.
A number of the earliest work started with the Worldwide desk, which reported from the entrance traces in Wuhan, China, the place the outbreak first emerged, then charted the failures in Italy and later examined the influence of the virus all around the world.
The desk additionally was instrumental within the reside briefing on the virus, a consistently up to date information feed that may go on to contain a number of departments within the newsroom and that is still a staple of the protection, greater than 500 days later.
Chris Buckley, a Occasions correspondent beforehand based mostly in China, was on a practice on his option to cowl the lockdown in Wuhan in January 2020 when his editor referred to as him and requested him to start out writing for the reside briefing.
On the time, Mr. Buckley was skeptical: “Dwell briefing? About this story? From a practice? So, that decision was a type of reminders that generally our editors are literally proper,” he mentioned, joking.
“Since then our protection of Covid has by no means stopped.”