AP, San Franciscan win Pulitzer Prizes

The Associated Press won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography Monday, 4 April 2005, for staff coverage of the Iraq insurgency over the past year, while a San Francisco Chronicle photographer won the feature photography prize for her heart-wrenching essay on an Iraqi boy who survived a blast in the war-torn nation.

The images that earned AP one of the most prestigious photojournalism awards depicted the human toll of violence on both sides of the Iraq conflict. In one photograph, a group of U.S. Marines huddle over a fallen comrade to pray, moments after he was fatally wounded in a battle with insurgents. Another picture shows the body of 18-month-old Mohammed Saleem in a rough-hewn wooden coffin before being laid to rest in Sadr City.

Several of the pictures represent the life-threatening situations in which photojournalists find themselves while covering the violence Iraq, yet the AP staffers managed to not only survive but triumph, capturing such exclusive images as: Iraqis cheering the deaths of four U.S. contractors, burned alive and strung up from a bridge in Fallujah; insurgents firing mortars against a U.S.-led military offensive; and the streetside execution of an Iraqi election worker in Baghdad.

Members of the prize-winning team are: Bilal HusseinKarim KadimBrennan LinsleyJim MacMillanSamir MizbanKhalid MohammedJohn B. MooreMuhammed MuheisenAnja NiedringhausMurad Sezer and Mohammed Uraibi. The prize includes $10,000.

San Francisco Chronicle photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice; Reprinted with permissionDeanne Fitzmaurice of the San Francisco Chronicle won the $10,000 prize for feature photography.

Operation Lion Heart” depicted the plight of 9-year-old Saleh Khalaf, an Iraqi boy who was severely maimed by an explosion that ripped open his abdomen, tore off his right hand and killed his older brother.

For 15 months, Fitzmaurice and Chronicle staff writer Meredith May followed Saleh — from the moment he arrived for rehabilitiation at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Calif., through his eventual reunion with his family. In her series, Fitzmaurice captured the nuanced emotional and physical journey the boy endured.

Fitzmaurice, 47, a Chronicle staff photographer for 16 years, praised the boy’s indomitable spirit.

“Saleh could always laugh, even though he only spoke Arabic at first,” she said in a Chronicle story. “We bonded through the photography. I’d shoot pictures, then show him some on the back of the camera, and he’d get so excited.”