The 2012 Pulitzer Prizes were awarded on April 16, 2012 by the Pulitzer Prize Board for work during the 2011 calendar year. The deadline for submitting entries was January 25, 2012. For the first time, all entries for journalism were required to be submitted electronically. In addition, the criteria for the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting has been revised to focus on real-time reporting of breaking news. For the eleventh time in Pulitzer's history (and the first since 1977), no book received the Fiction Prize.
A three-member panel nominated three books, which were then sent to the 20-member Pulitzer Prize Board. Because no book received a majority of the votes from the board members, no prize was given. This was the first time since 1977, and the eleventh time in Pulitzer history that there was no winner in the fiction category.
Jury member Michael Cunningham wrote a lengthy two-part essay in The New Yorker called "What Really Happened This Year" that described the process of selecting the shortlist titles and reaction to no prize being chosen.
Lev Grossman, book critic for Time, wrote that, "I support the Pulitzer board's decision not to give out an award for fiction this year." He argued that "great" novels are relatively rare, and that there are years in which a "masterpiece" will not be published. He also cautioned against the glut of book awards, writing, "It bothers me to see great work neglected, but it bothers me almost as much to see mediocre books over-praised."
The Miami Herald "for its exposure of deadly abuses and lax state oversight in Florida’s assisted-living facilities for the elderly and mentally ill".
The New York Times "for the work of Danny Hakim and Russ Buettner that revealed rapes, beatings and more than 1,200 unexplained deaths over the past decade of developmentally disabled people in New York State group homes".
The Arizona Republic staff "for its comprehensive coverage of the mass shooting that killed six and wounded 13, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, an exemplary use of journalistic tools, from Twitter to video to written reports and features".
Wisconsin State Journal staff "for its energetic coverage of 27 days of around-the-clock protests in the State Capitol over collective bargaining rights".
Gary Marx and David Jackson of The Chicago Tribune "for their exposure of a neglectful state justice system that allowed dozens of brutal criminals to evade punishment by fleeing the country, sparking moves for corrective change".
David Kocieniewski of The New York Times "for his lucid series that penetrated a legal thicket to explain how the nation’s wealthiest citizens and corporations often exploited loopholes and avoided taxes."
Tom Frank of USA Today for his sharply focused exploration of inflated pensions for state and local employees, enhancing stories with graphic material to show how state legislators pump up retirement benefits in creative but unconscionable ways".
The Wall Street Journal staff "for its tenacious exploration of how personal information is harvested from the cellphones and computers of unsuspecting Americans by corporations and public officials in a largely unmonitored realm of modern life".
David Wood of The Huffington Post "for his riveting exploration of the physical and emotional challenges facing American soldiers severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan during a decade of war".
Jeff Donn of the Associated Press "for his diligent exposure of federal regulators easing or neglecting to enforce safety standards as aging nuclear power plants exceed their original life spans".
Jessica Silver-Greenberg of The Wall Street Journal "for her compelling examination of aggressive debt collectors whose often questionable tactics, profitable but largely unseen by the public, vexed borrowers hard hit by the nation’s financial crisis".
The New York Times staff "for its powerful exploration of serious mistakes concealed by authorities in Japan after a tsunami and earthquake devastated the nation, and caused a nuclear disaster".
Thomson Reuters staff for "its well-crafted reports on the momentous revolution in Libya that went beyond battlefield dispatches to tell the wider story of discontent, conflict and the role of outside powers".
Paula Dwyer and Mark Whitehouse of Bloomberg News "for their analysis of and prescription for the European debt crisis, dealing with important technical questions in ways that the average readers could grasp".