US newspaper wins Pulitzer it never wanted

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A US newspaper has won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on a mass shooting in its own newsroom that left five journalists dead.

The Capital Gazette, based in Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, published on schedule the day after the attack and covered the shooting with help from staff at its sister publication, The Baltimore Sun.

Pulitzer board members acknowledged “their courageous response to the largest killing of journalists in US history in their newsroom” and for an “unflagging commitment to covering the news and serving their community at a time of unspeakable grief”.

Image: Flowers and handwritten notes at a makeshift memorial in Annapolis

The paper was given a grant of $100,000 (£76,369) to further its journalism.

Gazette editor Rick Hutzell said staff, who gathered in the newsroom to remember colleagues who were shot and killed last June, were conflicted over the award.

“Clearly, there were a lot of mixed feelings. No one wants to win an award for something that kills five of your friends,” he said.

Reporter Chase Cook said: “It’s definitely bittersweet. Since it’s so connected to something so tragic, there was no euphoric pop-off of excitement.”

More from Maryland

Jarrod Ramos faces trial in November, accused of killing five people in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis

Image: Jarrod Ramos goes on trial in November charged with five murders

Photographer Joshua McKerrow said people were “stone silent” for about a minute after learning about the award, which reporter Rachael Pacella said provided a “big sense of validation for the staff”.

“It’s been a challenge returning to work. It lets you know that the additional stress you’ve endured going back to work has been worth it and appreciated,” she said.

Features reporter Selene San Felice said she had to compose herself in a toilet before the prizes were announced and was initially unsure how to react to the special grant.

The National Press Club held a moment of silence to honour the victims of the Annapolis Capital Gazette newspaper shooting in July

Image: The US National Press Club held a moment of silence to honour the victims of the shooting

“At first, I thought that meant they just feel bad for us. And that’s not true, because there are a lot of people you can feel bad for right now. We’ve really earned this,” she said.

John McNamara, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman and Rob Hiaasen were killed in the attack.

Jarrod Ramos has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder and goes on trial in November.

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