ProPublica, a non-profit news startup, won a Pulitzer Prize on Monday while The Washington Post and The New York Times walked away with the lion's share of the prestigious US journalism awards.
The Washington Post won a total of four Pulitzers while The New York Times was awarded three.
Shari Fink, a ProPublica writer, shared the Pulitzer for Investigative Reporting with The New York Times Magazine for a story on a New Orleans hospital in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The Investigative Reporting award also went to the Philadelphia Daily News for a story on a rogue police narcotics squad.
Last year was the first year that the Pulitzers, which date back to 1917, allowed online-only publications to compete.
ProPublica, which publishes online at ProPublica.org and with partner news outlets, began operations in June 2008 and runs a newsroom in New York staffed by 32 journalists.
Its mission is to produce "investigative journalism in the public interest."
The runup to the awards was rife with speculation that the National Enquirer could win a Pulitzer for revealing that former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards had an affair, but the tabloid ended up not winning.
Anthony Shadid of The Washington Post won the Pulitzer for International Reporting for his coverage of Iraq while the Post's Gene Weingarten won the award for Feature Writing for a story about parents who killed their children by forgetting them in cars.
Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post won the Pulitzer for Commentary while Sarah Kaufman of the Post won for Criticism for her writing about dance.
Michael Moss of The New York Times won the award for Explanatory Reporting for articles on food safety issues while Matt Richtel of the Times won for coverage of the hazards of using mobile phones or other devices while driving.
Other newspapers picking up awards included the Bristol Herald Courier of Virginia, The Seattle Times, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Dallas Morning News.
Mary Chind of The Des Moines Register won for Breaking News Photography while Craig Walker of The Denver Post won for Feature Photography.
Besides journalism, the Pulitzer Board, made up of journalists from around the country and representatives of New York's Columbia University, also hands out awards for literature, drama and music.
Paul Harding won the Fiction award for his book "Tinkers."
Liaquat Ahamed won in the History category for "Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World," while TJ Stiles won for Biography for "The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt."
David Hoffman won in the General Nonfiction category for "The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy."
"Next to Normal" won the Drama award while "Versed" by Rae Armantrout won the Pulitzer for poetry. "Violin Concerto" by Jennifer Higdon won the Music award.