Published: Apr 12, 2010 11:44 AM EDT

Details on the 2010 Pulitzer Prizes for Journalism:

PUBLIC SERVICE: Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier

Herald Courier reporter Daniel Gilbert was honored for illuminating the mismanagement of natural-gas royalties owed to thousands of land owners in southwestern Virginia. His eight-part series and subsequent stories traced why $24 million in royalties were parked in escrow.

Gilbert spent part of 13 months reporting the complex story while handling daily assignments as one of seven staff writers at a 30,000-circulation daily. His findings have so far prompted two major energy conglomerates to pay more than $700,000 in outstanding royalties.

"It's why newspapers will continue to survive in some form," said Herald Courier Editor J. Todd Foster. "Nobody else is going to do this sort of reporting."

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BREAKING NEWS REPORTING: The Seattle Times staff

The Times staff won for reporting on the shooting deaths of four police officers in a coffee house and the 40-hour manhunt for the suspect. The newspaper combined traditional reporting with new media to provide comprehensive coverage.

When the Times received final confirmation of the suspect's name from a source, it updated the story online, posted a message on Twitter and e-mailed an alert to readers. The Times also used the social media experiment Google Wave to allow readers to participate in the coverage.

"It was a team effort. We're all really honored by it," said reporter Steve Miletich. "We set out to inform the community about a really tragic event at a time they really needed it."

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INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING: Sheri Fink of ProPublica, in collaboration with The New York Times Magazine; and Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman of the Philadelphia Daily News

Fink was honored for her work chronicling the "urgent life-and-death decisions made by one hospital's exhausted doctors when they were cut off by the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina," the prize board said. In the piece, employees at the hospital acknowledged administering lethal drug doses to severely ill patients.

Fink worked on the story for more than two years, interviewing 140 people and poring over documents to reconstruct the events at the hospital, which lost water and power in the disaster, ProPublica Editor-in-Chief Paul Steiger wrote in his nominating letter.

Laker and Ruderman uncovered the misdeeds of a rogue police narcotics squad that used drug searches as a cover to terrorize bodega owners, steal their goods and sexually attack women. Their reporting led to an FBI investigation and the re-examination of hundreds of criminal cases.

The work "was built on the kind of grit and shoe-leather reporting that journalists often neglect in the Internet age," editor Michael Days wrote in his nominating letter, adding that the pair "proved that pure investigative, watchdog journalism is not only irreplaceable, but is often the only avenue to right the wrongs suffered by the powerless."

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EXPLANATORY REPORTING: Michael Moss and members of The New York Times staff

Moss and the Times staff were commended for reporting on contaminated hamburger and other food-safety issues that spotlighted defects in federal regulation and led to improved practices.

Moss used confidential corporate and government records to tell the story of a single hamburger patty that infected 22-year-old Stephanie Smith with E. coli in 2007 and left her paralyzed. He showed how the patty was constructed from low-grade beef trimmings supplied by three separate slaughterhouses in the United States and Uruguay, as well as from a processed meat product treated with ammonia.

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LOCAL REPORTING: Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Pulitzer board honored Rutledge for what it said were "her penetrating reports on the fraud and abuse in a child-care program for low-wage working parents that fleeced taxpayers and imperiled children, resulting in a state and federal crackdown on providers."

The "Cashing in on Kids" series showed that child-care providers paid by the Wisconsin Shares program were conspiring with parents to collect government cash using faked attendance records. The state continued to pay one provider even after she was convicted of fraud, while another received checks after a live grenade was found in her kitchen within reach of her children.

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NATIONAL REPORTING: Matt Richtel and members of The New York Times staff

Richtel's articles and the work of the newspaper's online staff detailing the dangers of distracted driving "generated the biggest impact of anything The Times published all year," the newspaper's nominating letter said.

The series detailed the dangers of texting and using cell phones while driving, and helped lead businesses and the federal government to ban employees from texting behind the wheel. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said his agency would try to stop truckers from using phones while driving.

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INTERNATIONAL REPORTING: Anthony Shadid of The Washington Post

Shadid was honored for a series on Iraq's struggle to deal with the legacy of war and to shape its own future. He described Iraq in January 2009 as "a weary landscape dominated in hues of brown, the color of poverty."

"This war's end feels more truce than treaty, more respite than reconciliation," Shadid wrote. "There is no revival or renaissance, no celebration. It manifests itself most in the simple lifting of a siege."

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FEATURE WRITING: Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post

Weingarten won for a haunting story about parents who accidentally kill their children by forgetting them in cars. Thirteen fathers and mothers who had accidentally killed their children spoke to Weingarten, and several took him deep into their irreparably damaged lives.

Weingarten wrote that the facts are often the same. "An otherwise loving and attentive parent one day gets busy, or distracted, or upset, or confused by a change in his or her daily routine and just ... forgets a child in a car."

What kind of person forgets a baby? "The wealthy do, it turns out," Weingarten wrote. "And the poor, and the middle class. Parents of all ages and ethnicities do. Mothers are just as likely to do it as fathers."

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COMMENTARY: Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post

Parker was honored for her columns on an array of political and moral topics. In nominating her, Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt called Parker "a conservative, but one who sets her own course and refuses to buy into conservative talking points; a woman who is willing to infuriate feminists and antifeminists alike."

In a Nov. 29 column, Parker chided the Republican Party for "considering a 'purity' pledge to weed out undesirables from their ever-shrinking party."

"Most of us know that decisiveness isn't always a virtue," she wrote, "yet those pursuing the purity test seem to view nuance as an enemy of conservatism. The old elite corps of the conservative movement, men such as William F. Buckley and Russell Kirk, undoubtedly would find this attitude both dangerous and bizarre."

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CRITICISM: Sarah Kaufman of The Washington Post

The Pulitzer board honored Kaufman "for her refreshingly imaginative approach to dance criticism, illuminating a range of issues and topics with provocative comments and original insights."

Kaufman's work last year included one piece on the grace of Cary Grant and another proclaiming that the American ballet world had been suffocated by the legacy of George Balanchine.

"With fearlessness, intelligence and original spark, Kaufman helps to shape her readers' perceptions of (dance) as an art and as a fundamental human behavior," Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli said in his nominating letter.

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EDITORIAL WRITING: Tod Robberson, Colleen McCain Nelson and William McKenzie of The Dallas Morning News

The Pulitzer board praised the trio for "their relentless editorials deploring the stark social and economic disparity between the city's better-off northern half and distressed southern half."

Their articles, part of an effort to repair the area's long-standing neglect and inequalities, "are written with the passion and authority on southern Dallas that can only come from dogged, street-level research," Editor Robert Mong Jr. wrote in his nominating letter.

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EDITORIAL CARTOONING: Mark Fiore, self-syndicated, appearing on SFGate.com

Fiore's animated cartoons, appearing on the Web site of the San Francisco Chronicle, have criticized figures from President Barack Obama to global warming deniers.

"His biting wit, extensive research and ability to distill complex issues set a high standard for an emerging form of commentary," the board said.

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BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY: Mary Chind of The De