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From AJR,   September 2010  issue

Pulitzer Domination   

Three large news organizations have grown embarrassingly dominant in the resource-intensive field of investigative reporting.

Related reading:   Investigative Shortfall
  NPR Gears Up
  The Nonprofit Explosion

By Charles Layton
Charles Layton (charlesmary@hotmail.com) is a former editor and reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer and a former AJR senior contributing writer.     

This article was funded by a grant from the Open Society Institute.

Pulitzer Prizes were once more widely distributed among newspapers. But as all but a few papers were debilitated by staff cuts, three large ones the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times have grown embarrassingly dominant in the resource-intensive field of investigative reporting.

Here is a count of Pulitzer winners and finalists since 1985. Our count includes all of the stories in the investigative category plus stories in other categories that we judged to be investigative in nature.

As the figures show, between 1985 and 1995 the big three's showing was not overwhelming. In the late 1990s, the picture changed dramatically.

This chart shows, by year, the total number of investigative stories that were Pulitzer winners and finalists, the number of those that were produced by the big three and the percentages.

Year Total Investigative Stories Investigative Stories by Big 3 Percentage by Big 3
1985 8 0 0
1986 7 0 0
1987 8 2 25
1988 8 0 0
1989 9 1 11
1990 10 1 10
1991 9 1 11
1992 10 1 10
1993 10 1 10
1994 8 1 13
1995 8 1 13
1996 11 2 18
1997 11 2 18
1998 8 3 38
1999 9 3 33
2000 10 3 30
2001 8 2 25
2002 8 4 50
2003 8 3 38
2004 10 3 30
2005 8 5 63
2006 9 6 67
2007 11 1 9
2008 10 4 40
2009 8 3 38
2010 11 5 45