Liberian-born journalist working for the New York Times, Helene Cooper, joined the newspaper's staff yesterday as proud winners of the coveted Pulitzer Prize for “courageous front-line reporting and vivid human stories on Ebola in Africa.” She is the first Liberian winner of a Pulitzer Prize.
Ms. Cooper's articles formed part of a series on the Ebola epidemic, including others by Norimitsu Onishi, Adam Nossiter, Ben C. Solomon, Jeffrey Gettleman, Sheri Fink, Kevin Sack and Pam Belluck winning the prize on Ebola coverage. The stories were complemented by the Times' photography, infographics and other digital media assets to tell as clear and complete a story as possible — which justified the Pulitzer for the paper's entire staff.
The New York Times captured two other Pulitzers. Photographer Daniel Berehulak won the prize for feature photography covering months of images he captured documenting the spread of Ebola in West Africa. The third win was the prize for investigative reporting, for a series by Eric Lipton on aggressive efforts by lobbyists and lawyers to push state attorneys general to drop investigations, change policies, negotiate favorable settlements or pressure federal regulators to benefit their clients. The investigative reporting prize was shared with The Wall Street Journal, which won its first Pulitzer in recent years for a project that revealed to Americans previously confidential data “on the motivations and practices of their health care providers.”
The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, won the prize for Public Service, the most prestigious of the Pulitzer Prizes. The full list of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winners can be found at www.pulitzer.org/awards/2015.
Helene Cooper is a Pentagon correspondent with The New York Times. Prior to this assignment, she covered the White House and was The Times’ diplomatic correspondent. She joined the newspaper in 2004 as the assistant editorial page editor, a position she held for two years before she ran out of opinions and returned to news. She has reported from 64 countries, from Pakistan to the Congo.
Previously, Helene worked for 12 years at the Wall Street Journal, where she was a foreign correspondent, reporter and editor, working in the London, Washington and Atlanta bureaus. She is the winner of the Raymond Clapper award for Washington reporting (2000), the Sandy Hume award for best reporter under the age of 35 (2001), the Missouri Lifestyle award for feature writing (2002), a National Association of Black Journalists award for feature writing (2004), and the Urbino Press Award for foreign reporting (2011).
Born in Monrovia, Liberia, Helene is the author of “The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood” (Simon and Schuster), a New York Times best seller and a National Books Critics Circle finalist in autobiography in 2009. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For Cooper, who celebrates her birthday tomorrow, April 22, winning a Pulitzer means much more than a surprise pre-birthday gift. "I am counting down the days–16, right?–till our country can be declared Ebola free," she told the Daily Observer.