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Las Vegas Sun wins Pulitzer Prize

Sun receives public service award for reporting on Strip construction deaths

Updated Monday, April 20, 2009 | 4:42 p.m.

Sun wins Pulitzer

Reporter Joe Brown embraces reporter Alexandra Berzon as she returns to the newsroom and learns of the Las Vegas Sun's win of the Pulitzer Prize for public service for exposing a high death rate among construction workers on the Las Vegas Strip, at the Las Vegas Sun offices in Henderson, Nevada on Monday, April 20, 2009. Launch slideshow »

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UPDATED STORY: Sun wins the Pulitzer Prize

The Las Vegas Sun has won the Pulitzer Prize for public service for exposing a high death rate among construction workers on the Las Vegas Strip.

According to the Pulitzer Web site, the honor was "awarded to the Las Vegas Sun, and notably the courageous reporting by Alexandra Berzon, for the exposure of the high death rate among construction workers on the Las Vegas Strip amid lax enforcement of regulations, leading to changes in policy and improved safety conditions."

The only other Nevada newspaper ever to win a Pulitzer Prize was the Reno Evening Gazette and Nevada Journal (now the Reno Gazette-Journal) for editorials written about the Mustang Ranch brothel in 1977.

The Pulitzers are the most prestigious awards in journalism.

Brian Greenspun, whose father Hank Greenspun started the paper in 1950 and now serves as its president and editor, said the Sun’s series on construction deaths was a continuation of his father’s reputation for standing up for the working men and women “who didn’t have a voice.”

“This story was about the failure of government and an attitude of the people that said it was not important to inspect the way they’re supposed to inspect, which results in working people getting hurt,” Greenspun said. “It was a failure up and down the line ... When it gets fixed that means you saved that many people’s lives. What greater purpose can you have in the newspaper business?”

Also Monday, The New York Times took five Pulitzers, including one for breaking the call-girl scandal that destroyed Gov. Eliot Spitzer's political career.

And the Detroit Free Press won for local reporting for obtaining a trove of sexually explicit text messages that brought down the city's mayor.

The awards were announced after one of the most depressing years the newspaper industry has ever seen, with layoffs, bankruptcies and closings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.