Indian American journalist Megha Rajagopalan won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize on Friday for her coverage of China’s detention camps in Xinjiang.
The recognition: Rajagopalan won the award for International Reporting with Alison Killing and Christo Buschek for BuzzFeed News, the first for the website since its founding in 2012.
- The team received the accolade “for a series of clear and compelling stories that used satellite imagery and architectural expertise, as well as interviews with two dozen former prisoners, to identify a vast new infrastructure built by the Chinese government for the mass detention of Muslims.”
- The Prize administration recognized six articles from the team, with the first three being part of a series published on Aug. 26, 2020.
- Rajagopalan, according to BuzzFeed News, was the first to visit an internment camp in 2017, at a time when the Chinese government reportedly denied the existence of such places.
Her reaction: Rajagopalan, who was eventually forced out of China, told BuzzFeed News that she was “in complete shock” and did not expect the award.
- The journalist acknowledged her collaborators, Killing and Buschek, her editor Alex Campbell, BuzzFeed News’ public relations team, and the organizations that funded their work. These include the Pulitzer Center, the Open Technology Fund and the Eyebeam Center for the Future of Journalism.
- However, she said she is most grateful to former detainees for sharing their experiences inside the camps. The team interviewed a total of 28.
- In a tweet, Rajagopalan also shared her father’s “understated Indian dad reaction” to the news. After her post went viral, her father called her “with a heartfelt response that was definitely not understated!”
Aside from Rajagopalan, another Indian American journalist, Neil Bedi, won the Pulitzer for Local Reporting with Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times. The Prize recognized their investigative series on a Florida county police force that used computer modeling to identify potential crime suspects — including children who had bad grades or were abused at home.