Agence France-Presse and the news websites Huffington Post and Politico each won their first Pulitzer Prizes as the prestigious journalism awards highlighted global issues and online reporting.
The New York Times won two Pulitzers, and the committee notably did not make awards for editorial writing or fiction in a year which saw Web journalism mark further gains.
AFP's Massoud Hossaini won the award for breaking news photography "for his heartbreaking image of a girl crying in fear after a suicide bomber's attack at a crowded shrine in Kabul," the committee announced.
His AFP photograph published December 7 shows young Tarana Akbari screaming after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in a crowd at the Abul Fazel Shrine in Kabul on December 6.
"When I could stand up, I saw that everybody was around me on the ground, really bloody. I was really, really scared," said the girl, whose name means "melody," and whose age has been given as either 10 or 12.
Sig Gissler, the Pulitzer administrator, called the AFP picture "one single riveting photograph," and "a picture you will long remember."
AFP chief executive Emmanuel Hoog said the committee "has honored one of our bravest and best photojournalists, Massoud Hossaini, and the award is recognition of AFP's insistence on quality and commitment across the range of journalistic pursuits."
Hoog added, "Today, in the news arena, words without images are impoverished and pictures without text are not enough. The two complement each other and images -- fixed or moving -- are essential to the journalism of the 21st century... Bravo and congratulations to Massoud."
Hossaini, who is based in Kabul, said he was "so happy and excited" to win the prize that he was unable to sleep.
"I'm humbled to be an Afghan who can be a voice for the painful life and moments which people have here," he said.
"I know that whoever sees this photo will think about the photographer but I hope they don't forget the pain Afghanistan's people have in their life."
The Pulitzers, which date back to 1917, began allowing online-only publications to compete three years ago.
David Wood of The Huffington Post won the national reporting prize "for his riveting exploration of the physical and emotional challenges" facing American soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, the committee said.
Politico's Matt Wuerker won the award for editorial cartooning, satirizing the partisan conflict that engulfed Washington in 2011.
The public service award went to The Philadelphia Inquirer "for its exploration of pervasive violence in the city's schools," according to the Pulitzer committee.
The prize for breaking news went to the staff of the Tuscaloosa News for the Alabama paper's coverage using real-time updates to help locate missing people after a deadly tornado, which forced the newspaper to publish at another site.
The award for investigative reporting was shared by Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley of the Associated Press and Michael Berens and Ken Armstrong of The Seattle Times.
The AP was recognized for reporting on the New York Police Department's clandestine spying program that monitored daily life in Muslim communities.
The Seattle Times journalists were honored for their coverage of a little-known governmental body in Washington state which moved vulnerable patients from safer pain-control medication to methadone, a cheaper but more dangerous drug.
The New York Times took awards for explanatory reporting for David Kocieniewski's reporting on tax loopholes; and for international reporting for Jeffrey Gettleman's coverage of famine and conflict in East Africa.
Pulitzers also went to Sara Ganim, one of the youngest-ever winners at 24, and members of The Patriot-News Staff in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for local reporting; Eli Sanders of the Washington state weekly The Stranger, for feature writing; Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune for commentary; Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe for criticism; and Craig Walker of The Denver Post for feature photography.
Besides journalism, the Pulitzer Board, made up of journalists from around the country and representatives of Columbia University, also bestows awards for literature, drama and music. No award was given this year for fiction for the first time since 1977.
The drama award went to "Water by the Spoonful" by Quiara Alegria Hudes, while the history prize went to the late Manning Marable for "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention."
John Lewis Gaddis won the Pulitzer for biography for his book "George F. Kennan: An American Life," on the American diplomat.
The Pulitzers for poetry went to "Life on Mars" by Tracy K. Smith; general nonfiction to "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern," by Stephen Greenblatt; and music to "Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts" by Kevin Puts.
Each Pulitzer winner receives $10,000.© ANP/AFP