NEW YORK — The New York Times and The New Yorker won the Pulitzer Prize for public service Monday for breaking the Harvey Weinstein scandal with reporting that galvanized the #MeToo movement and set off a worldwide reckoning over sexual misconduct in the workplace.
One of the biggest surprises of the day came in the non-journalism categories when rap star Kendrick Lamar was awarded the Pulitzer for music, becoming the first non-classical or non-jazz artist to win the prize.
The Times and The Washington Post took the award in the national reporting category for their coverage of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and contacts between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russian officials.
The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, California, received the breaking news reporting award for coverage of the wildfires that swept through California wine country last fall, killing 44 people and destroying thousands of homes.
The Washington Post also won the investigative reporting prize for revealing decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct against Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. The Republican former judge denied the accusations, but they figured heavily in Doug Jones' victory as the first Democrat elected to the Senate from the state in decades.
Pulitzer judges upended decades of tradition by awarding its music prize Lamar for his rap album "DAMN.," a sharp departure from the classical and jazz works the body have consistently favored. The decision, which drew praise and surprise online, quickly overshadowed other arts winners, including Andrew Sean Greer's win in the fiction category.
The Pulitzers were once so restrictive that an advisory board rejected giving a prize to Duke Ellington. The closest precedent to Lamar's win came in 2008 when Bob Dylan received an honorary Pulitzer.
The group's board called Lamar's album a "virtuosic song collection" and said it captures "the modern African American life." Classical composers were named as finalists: Michael Gilberton for "Quartet" and Ted Hearne for "Sound from the Bench."
Greer's novel "Less" tells the comic story about the misbegotten adventures of a middle-aged novelist. It didn't receive the same attention as Jesmyn Ward's "Sing, Unburied, Sing," winner of the National Book Award, or George Saunders' "Lincoln in the Bardo." But it was widely praised as poignant and funny and was ranked among the year's best by The Washington Post, which called it an "elegantly" told story of a man who "loses everything: his lover, his suitcase, his beard, his dignity."
The drama prize went to Martyna Majok "Cost of Living," a drama featuring four characters, two of them disabled. Caroline Fraser's work on author Laura Ingalls Wilder, "Prairie Fires," won for biography. Jack E. Davis' The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea" won for history, while the general nonfiction prize went to James Forman Jr's "Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America."
Frank Bidart's "Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016," winner of a National Book Award last fall, received the Pulitzer for poetry. Bidart, who turns 80 next month, is one of the country's most acclaimed poets and has been a Pulitzer finalist before. His previous works include "Desire" and Star Dust."
The Pulitzers, American journalism's most prestigious awards, reflected a year of unrelenting news and unprecedented challenges for U.S. media, as Trump repeatedly branded reporting "fake news" and called journalists "the enemy of the people."
In announcing the journalism prizes, Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy said the winners "uphold the highest purpose of a free and independent press, even in the most trying of times."
"Their work is real news of the highest order, executed nobly, as journalism was always intended, without fear or favor," she said..
The Pulitzer judges said The Times' Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey and The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow produced "explosive, impactful journalism that exposed powerful and wealthy sexual predators" and forced the issue of sexual abuse into the open.
"People have been saying for decades that this kind of behavior is endemic in society," New Yorker editor David Remnick said Monday, adding that he hoped the stories would "help not only bring it to light but change the culture."