Home » How Exactly does the Pulitzer Prize Work?

The Pulitzer Prize was begun by and is named after Hungarian-born Joseph Pulitzer. The Pulitzer Prize is awarded annually to distinguished works in the area of journalism and the arts: letters (books) and music.

Only twenty one different prizes are awarded to works in these three category areas, although on average more than 2,400 entries are submitted.
In the category of books, there are Pulitzer Prizes awarded for: fiction by an American author, documented book on U.S. history, documented bio- or autobiography by an American author, a volume of original verse by an American, and a non-fiction work by an American that does not fit within the parameters of any other category.
Submitted books are sent to five separate juries, to judge submissions within each book category. Jurists are individuals considered experts in the field: researchers, academics, and authors.

There are many different journalism Pulitzers awarded. There is also a prize awarded in the category of drama. To judge the drama submissions, the drama jury does not only judge the playwriting, but also attends performances in regional and New York theaters.

For the music category, the music jury meets in New York city to study compositions and listen to recordings.

After the juries for each of the 21 categories—usually numbering 102 judges–read, listen to or view each submission, they narrow down the submissions to three nominations. Then, in early April, the nominations are given to the Pulitzer Board, which is ultimately responsible for deciding the Pulitzer winner for each of the 21 categories.

Prizes are awarded by majority vote. The Board may also decide on a “no-vote,” when they deem none of the nominations merit the distinguishment of a Pulitzer Prize.
For 20 of the 21 categories, winners receive a certificate and $10,000. Journalism’s Public Service category receives a gold medal. But for all, being chosen is the ultimate reward.

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