Pulitzer Prize recognises journalism that unmasked sexual harassers

The New Yorker was honoured for stories by Ronan Farrow, a contributing writer, exposing the decades-long sexual predation of the movie producer Harvey Weinstein. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

The New Yorker was honoured for stories by Ronan Farrow, a contributing writer, exposing the decades-long sexual predation of the movie producer Harvey Weinstein. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

The New York Times and The New Yorker have won the Pulitzer Prize for public service after exposing sexual harassment in Hollywood.

The series of articles published by the two newspapers exposed and brought down film mogul Harvey Weinstein and became a catalyst for the #MeToo movement.

The investigations lead by Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey and Ronan Farrow were described by the panel as “explosive, impactful journalism that exposed powerful and wealthy sexual predators, including allegations against one of Hollywood’s most influential producers, bringing them to account for long-suppressed allegations of coercion, brutality and victim silencing”.

A running list of 85 women who have accused Weinstein of rape and sexual misconduct has been compiled since the publication these reports and the New York state has since sued the producer, his brother, Bob Weinstein, and their production company for failing to protect employees from years of his alleged sexual misconduct despite multiple complaints from staff.

The reports have also directly manifested in the take-down of political commentator Bill O’Reilly, comic Louis CK and restaurateur Ken Friedman.

The #MeToo movement has precipitated in women and men speaking out against other big names, such as actors Kevin Spacey, Jeffrey Tambor, James Franco and Michael Douglas.

The movement has also played a role in forcing institutions like USA Gymnastics and Vice Media to intervene on cases of rape and sexual harassment.

The Pulitzer Prize committee also recognised the Washington Post for its investigation into sexual misconduct accusations against American senate candidate Roy Moore by six teenage girls – a report which upended the senate race.

Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit both subs and writes for the Mail & Guardian. She joined the M&G after completing her master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Cape Town. She is interested in the literature of the contemporary black diaspora and its intersection with queer aesthetics of solidarity. Her recent work considers the connections between South African literary history and literature from the rest of the Continent. Read more from Sarah Smit

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