OVERVIEW: NY Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Activities

Presented by:
Humanities New York
Current Initiative: Centennial Campfires National Partner: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Pulitzer Prizes Subject: History, Journalism, Varies Audience: All

“The work honored by the Pulitzer Prizes is essential to Humanities New York – a way to thread some of the best and most influential American writing, both the belle lettristic and journalistic, through out programming. Many will continue as permanent additions to our programming as self-sustaining program series.” – Humanities NY website


Humanities NY hosted a three part series that explored the research and publication of a piece of investigative journalism – providing a master class in what goes into a Pulitzer-winning investigative project.

The Anatomy of Change: NYPD’s Surveillance of Muslim Communities

After the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD became one of America’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies. In 2011, Matt Apuzzo led an Associated Press investigation that revealed how the NYPD deployed undercover officers into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, among other operations ultimately ruled illegal. This program explored the process and investigative as well as what this masterfully executed project tells us about NYC today.

Conversation featured: Matt Apuzzo; one of his former editors, Michael Oreskes; and Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, Linda Sarsour. Critically-acclaimed author Moustafa Bayoumi moderated.

The Anatomy of Change: Journalism and Justice

Featuring Michael Moss, whose Pulitzer-winning 2009 project on food safety revealed defects in local and federal regulation. Moss is the author of Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, and a forthcoming book, Hooked: Food and Free Will for Random House. Michael Moss spoke with Peter Kim, executive director of the Museum of Food and Drink, and Sam Fromartz, founder and editor-in-chief of the Food and Environment Reporting Network.

The Anatomy of Change: Cliff Levy’s “Broken Homes”

Cliff Levy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series, “Broken Homes” published in The New York Times exemplifies the best of journalism by telling stories of the voiceless, and demanding justice for those victimized. Over the course of six stories in 2002, Levy provided a brilliant, vivid exploration of New York state’s negligent oversight of homes for the mentally ill and unstable, revealing tales of abuse and neglect that are harrowing.

Videos of each conversation are available via the council’s website.


In addition to the events featured above, the council developed educational resources for the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial through the following programs:

Reading & Discussion Series

The council created the theme, Reaching for the American Dream, featuring five novels that won the award for literature to honor the Pulitzer Prize centennial. Each novel in the series resonates with contemporary moment, by looking at how authors depicted struggles to better oneself and achieve the American dream – and how, despite our efforts, we can end up with unfulfilled or at odds with other elements of society.

Community Conversations

These conversations promote engaged dialogue by providing a platform to bring people together for short, thoughtful discussions on themes central to American life. A Pulitzer Prizes-themed toolkit was launched December 2016.


  • Arab American Association of New York
  • Museum of Food and Drink
  • Food and Environmental Reporting Network


  • Cliff Levy, Investigative Reporting & International Reporting, New York Times (2003, 2011)
  • Michael Moss, Explanatory Reporting, New York Times (2010)
  • Matt Apuzzo, Investigative Reporting, Associated Press (2012)


  • New York City, NY

To view all councils who participated in the Pulitzer Prizes Campfires Initiative, click the button below.