Orlando newspaper gets Pulitzer nod for Pulse gay club massacre coverage

Orlando’s newspaper has been recognised with a Pulitzer Prize citation for its coverage of the Pulse gay club massacre.

The Orlando Sentinel was one of the primary sources of on-the-ground coverage in Orlando last year during the horrific gay club shooting, in which 49 people died and many more were injured.

The newspaper ran extensive coverage in the wake of the shooting as details slowly became clear about the horrific scale of the tragedy.

In the day following the shooting, the Sentinel published 40 articles and 31 videos online as well as eight extra pages of coverage in print dedicated to the tragedy.

Across the following weeks, the newspaper shed light on the stories of victims and their families, as well as the heroic first responders and doctors who helped saved lives.

The Sentinel was recognised for its work this week, listed by the Pulitzer Prize committee as a 2017 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Breaking News Reporting.

The citation states: “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.”

However, the Prize itself was scooped by Oakland’s East Bay Times, which picked up the Pulitzer for coverage of the ‘Ghost Ship’ fire, “exposing the city’s failure to take actions that might have prevented it”.

The Sentinel staff said: “We are honoured to have been named a finalist in the Pulitzer Prize’s breaking news reporting category for our coverage of last summer’s Pulse nightclub tragedy.”

Sentinel Editor-in-Chief Avido Khahaifa explained the work stood as some of his team’s proudest.

Noting that many were working despite fears for their own friends and family members, he said: “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.”

He added that the warm response to the Sentinel reporting from the local community speaks for itself, explaining: “We knew we had done our jobs well from the reaction by the community here.”