The Orlando Sentinel was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news reporting for their coverage of the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, which took the lives of 49 people, injured 53 others and became known as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
“We knew we had done our jobs well from the reaction by the community here,” said Orlando Sentinel Editor-in-Chief Avido Khahaifa. “Without question, it was one of the toughest situations to see a staff in. It was the first time in my career as an editor that I worked with HR to remind people we have an employee assistance program if anybody needs to talk.”
The publication covered the shooting extensively as it developed. It ran 40 articles and 31 videos online the day after the shooting, and included eight additional pages of coverage in print.
The staff covered the massacre as it was happening — with hostages still inside the gay nightclub during its Latin night on June 12. Following the shooting, the Orlando Sentinel invested in reporting the stories of the victims, their families, doctors and first responders.
Although the Sentinel did not win, the Pulitzer Prize committee recognized them as a finalist “For coverage of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub, including middle-of-the-night reports as party-goers hid and police prepared to storm the building and subsequent work that took readers inside the club and humanized the victims,” according to its website.
The prize winner for the Breaking News Reporting category was the staff of East Bay Times for their coverage of the “Ghost Ship” fire that took the lives of 36 people. The Dallas Morning News Staff was also a finalist for covering the murder of five police officers in a shooting spree that injured nine others.
The Orlando Sentinel won Pulitzers for editorial writing in 1988 and 2000. It also won in 1993 for investigative reporting.