NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The Advocate has won a Pulitzer Prize in local reporting for its coverage of Louisiana’s criminal conviction system.
The newspaper produced a series that included reports on a Jim Crow-era law that let only 10 jurors convict people in criminal cases. Voters overturned the law after the series was published.
The Pulitzer committee called the series “a damning portrayal of the state’s discriminatory conviction system” in its announcement Monday.
Editor Peter Kovacs says the paper put an issue on the radar screen and residents voted to change it.
The newspaper is based in Baton Rouge, but staffers at The New Orleans Advocate wrote the series. Kovacs says staff members in New Orleans drank champagne from purple, green or gold plastic cups like those thrown from Mardi Gras floats.
The Advocate has been awarded it’s first Pulitzer Prize for reporting on jury laws allowing conviction without a unanimous verdict.
According to our media partner’s at the Advocate, their coverage of the jury laws set the stage for the future amendment of that Louisiana state constitution. That amendment now demands that unanimous verdicts be reached in criminal cases to convict.
This award marks the first Pulitzer Prize in the state since 2006. That year, The Times-Picayune received two for coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
The journalism awards recognize exceptional work in 2018 by U.S. newspapers, magazines and online outlets. There are 14 categories for reporting, photography, criticism, commentary and cartoons.
The Advocate received their Pulitzer for local reporting.