The Charlotte Observer, one of three newspapers to win two Pulitzer Prizes, captured the coveted public service award for patiently tracking the story that toppled television evangelist Jim Bakker, its editor said.
The North Carolina daily broke the story about Bakker's affair with church secretary Jessica Hahn and the looting of his PTL ministry "in the face of a massive campaign by the PTL to discredit the newspaper," the Pulitzer Prize board said in announcing the awards Thursday.Hahn had approached the Observer three years earlier with her allegations of Bakker's sexual infidelity, but editor Rich Oppel declined to run the piece because he wanted to keep the PTL story "above the shoulders."
However, when it became apparent PTL money may have been diverted because of the affair, the newspaper decided to go with the story, Oppel said.
In the arts category, the much sought-after prize for fiction went to Toni Morrison, who many felt was slighted this year when her novel, "Beloved," failed to capture the National Book Award.
Besides the public service award, The Charlotte Observer shared a Pulitzer for editorial cartooning with The Atlanta Constitution, for cartoons by Doug Marlette, who worked at the Observer for 15 years before joining the Constitution in 1987.
Two other newspapers The Miami Herald and The Wall Street Journal also won double awards.
The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Hertzberg and James Stewart won the explanatory journalism award for stories on investment banker Martin Siegel, who was charged with insider trading, as well as for their penetrating look at the stock market the day after the Oct. 19 crash.
The newspaper also took the specialized reporting prize for Walt Bogdanich's "chilling series" on faulty testing by medical laboratories.
The Miami Herald's two Pulitzers went to Dave Barry (whose columns appear in the Deseret News) for commentary leavened with humor and to Michel duCille for feature photographs of a drug-infested housing project. It was the second Pulitzer for duCille, who shared the prize for spot news photography two years ago.