FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The South Florida Sun Sentinel was awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for public service on Monday for its impactful coverage of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
The prize, the most respected in journalism, recognized the newspaper's 10-month effort to reveal how 17 people could be murdered in a school considered one of the safest in Florida.
In dozens of stories, the Sun Sentinel exposed failures by the school district, law enforcement and social services that enabled the teenage gunman to enter the school on Valentine's Day 2018 and slaughter staff and students with a semi-automatic rifle.
The Sun Sentinel's coverage sparked significant changes in law enforcement and school safety and led to legislation to hold schools more accountable for crimes that occur on their campuses.
The Pulitzer judges cited the Sun Sentinel's stories for "exposing failings by school and law enforcement officials before and after the deadly shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School."
Pulitzer Prizes are awarded in 14 categories of journalism, and the award for public service, recognized with a gold medal, is considered the most prestigious. The Sun Sentinel also was named a finalist for the Pulitzer in breaking news for what the board called "exhaustive and lucid" coverage that "brought compassion and clarity to a horrific tragedy."
This is the second time the Sun Sentinel has won the Pulitzer for public service reporting. In 2013, the Pulitzer board awarded the Sun Sentinel its gold medal for an investigation of off-duty police officers endangering the lives of citizens by speeding. The series of stories, titled "Above the Law: Speeding Cops," led police departments across South Florida to discipline scores of officers and institute new ways of tracking police activity.
The Sun Sentinel's Parkland coverage included news stories and opinion pieces that:
-- Laid bare how the Broward County school district failed to deal with a violent, mentally disturbed student who became a mass murderer.
-- Exposed a culture of leniency that enabled the future shooter to get away with criminal behavior in school.