NPR Won a Pulitzer for their No Compromise Investigative Podcast Series

NPR reported that they, and Member Stations KCUR and WABE, won a Pulitzer Prize for audio reporting. This is NPR’s first-ever Pulitzer.

NPR’s Pulitzer for audio reporting went to Lisa Hagen, Chris Haxel, Graham Smith, and Robert Little for their investigative reporting podcast series No Compromise about gun rights activists that illuminated the deepening schism between American conservatives.

The description of the No Compromise podcast is as follows:

Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Audio Reporting. Discover a social media empire with an unapologetic vision of gun rights – generating millions of likes, follows, and dollars. From Guns & America, reporters Lisa Hagen of WABE and Chris Haxel of KCUR expose how three brothers from the most uncompromising corner of the gun debate are turning hot-button issues into donations and controversy.

It was one of two NPR finalists in the category; the other was for what the Pulitzer committee described as “courageous, on-the-ground reporting on the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and its implications around the globe.”

In an emailed statement to the newsroom, Senior VP of News, Nancy Barns noted that this is the second year that the Pulitzer Prize has experimented with an audio category. “You may recall that NPR was a finalist last year for the White Lies podcast,” she wrote. “The recognition today underscores the investments we have made in deep reporting, longform storytelling, and collaboration across NPR and our Member stations.”

The No Compromise podcast was introduced in August of 2020. The first episode, “A World Where the NRA is Soft on Guns” was released on September 8, 2020. The most recent episode is titled: “A One-Man Propaganda Band” and was released on October 20, 2020.

No Compromise Podcast Looks at a Far-Right Gun Movement

In April, the Dorr brothers made the front page of the Washington Post as the organizers of anti-lockdown protests in a handful of states. But reporters Chris Haxel (KCUR) and Lisa Hagen (WABE) of the public radio reporting collaborative Guns & America knew them from covering a seemingly different movement.

No Compromise, now available, is a limited-run investigative series about a movement of gun rights advocacy to the right of the National Rifle Association, one that’s more absolutist and gaining momentum in the gun rights world.

Through the story of brothers Aaron, Chris, and Ben, No Compromise traces both the movement’s origins and the family’s roots in anti-public education, anti-gay and anti-abortion efforts in the Upper Midwest. The podcast looks at how the brothers have updated their father’s political playbook by combining its strategies with the influence over their nearly two million Facebook followers across a dozen states.

New episodes of the limited-series podcast will publish each Tuesday.

Hosts Lisa Hagen and Chris Haxel first heard the Dorrs described as charlatans by the type of long-time gun rights activists who lobby state legislatures. But as they dug deeper and followed the money, it became clear that there is more to the story than the way the brothers spend their donations, weaponize outrage and commodify alienation.

“The NRA is struggling, and there are plenty of pro-gun groups eager to fill any real or perceived power vacuum. Examining those groups — and the people who lead them — may provide a glimpse into the future of a debate that won’t be going away anytime soon,” said co-host Chris Haxel.

No Compromise shows the larger ideological connections in the Dorr brothers’ network of friends and fellow political mercenaries, and reveals how their tactical playbook is being used by other anti-government actors, including anti-vaccine, anti-quarantine and white nationalist movements.

“The lessons we learned reporting this story apply to a much bigger spectrum than just gun rights,” said co-host Lisa Hagen. “Mistrust and anger are so easy to manipulate no matter what the issue is. And that’s something we have to become more aware of regardless of how we feel about guns or anything else.”

“This important and compelling project takes us deep into a world that many people know little about,” says Anya Grundmann, senior vice president for programming and audience development. “We’re proud to be showcasing top of the line journalism from our partners across the public radio network.”

This podcast was developed with support from NPR’s Story Lab, a creative studio at the heart of NPR that cultivates new voices, new approaches to storytelling, and the evolving sound of public radio. Guns & America is a national reporting collaboration created by WAMU with support provided by The Kendeda Fund, a private Atlanta-based grantmaking foundation that invests in transformative leaders and ideas, empowering communities to enhance equity, vibrancy, resourcefulness, and resilience.