Futuro Media and PRX received a 2022 Pulitzer Prize for the seven-part series Suave. The examination of the juvenile justice system has gone through the story of David Luis “Suave” Gonzalez, who entered prison at 17 and then reintegrated into society after 30 years behind bars. Pulitzer judges called it a “brutally honest and immersive profile.”
Futuro Media founder Maria Hinojosa met Suave 27 years ago when she was asked to speak at a graduation ceremony at Graterford State Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania. They kept in touch over the decades by phone, mail and occasional visits. She served as executive producer of the podcast, hosted by Maggie Freleng. The Suave team also included producer Julieta Martinelli, editors Marlon Bishop and Audrey Quinn, and sound engineer Stephanie Lebow.
“When I heard the news that Suave had won the Pulitzer Prize, I felt like a tectonic shift had happened,” Hinojosa said in a statement. “The Pulitzer is an example of American excellence. To have our podcast focused on people who are often overlooked simply because they are behind bars recognized is an extraordinary achievement. This is an incredible moment for American journalism – the choice to recognize a story that goes deep into the humanity of not just the source, but the reporters as well. It’s a testament to never giving up on a story and trusting your producers. The Suave podcast has always been scrappy from the start. Never in my life did I think we could win a Pulitzer. I think that’s why we won.
Suave – which was distributed by PRX – was also honored this year in the International Documentary Association’s IDA Documentary Awards.
Suave beat out two other Pulitzer finalists – the NBC News Southlake podcast for a series on how critical race theory factored into a fight in a Texas school district, and an NPR series on nascent democracies in East Africa.
This is the third year that the Pulitzer Prizes have been awarded to audio journalism. Last year’s award went to a public radio series on gun control. The 2020 Pulitzer went to WBEZ, Chicago’s This American Life for a joint reporting project with the Los Angeles Times and Vice News on an episode called “The Out Crowd” about immigration.
The Pulitzer Prizes, administered by Columbia University and considered the most prestigious in American journalism, reward work in 15 journalism categories and seven artistic categories. This year’s awards honored work produced in 2021.
Check out all the latest Pulitzer Prize winners HERE.