NEW YORK — The Washington Post won six Pulitzer Prizes on Monday, including the public service medal for exposing shoddy treatment of America's war wounded at Walter Reed hospital, and the breaking-news award for coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre.

The New York Times received two Pulitzers: one for investigative reporting, for stories on toxic ingredients in medicine and other products imported from China, and one for explanatory reporting, for examining the ethical issues surrounding DNA testing.

The Post's other awards were for:

— National reporting, for its exploration of Vice President Dick Cheney's backstage influence;

— International reporting, for a series on how private security contractors in Iraq operate outside the laws governing U.S. forces;

— Feature writing, for Gene Weingarten's story on world-class violinist Joshua Bell, who, in an experiment, played beautiful music in a subway station to gauge commuters' reaction;

— Commentary, for Steven Pearlstein's columns on the nation's economic problems.

It was the biggest haul of Pulitzers in the Post's history. Previously, the most Pulitzers won by the Post in a single year was four, in 2006. The record for the most Pulitzers in one year is seven, won by the Times in 2002, mostly for its coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The awards were announced at a time of great distress in the newspaper industry, with circulation plummeting and advertisers fleeing to the Internet. Many newspapers, the Post included, have announced buyouts, layoffs and cutbacks in coverage.

"Amid all the gloomy talk about journalism today, these are fine examples of high-quality journalism in all parts of the nation," said Sig Gissler, administrator for the Pulitzers.

The Chicago Tribune also won in the investigative reporting category, for stories exposing faulty government regulation that resulted in recalls of car seats, toys and cribs.

The Pulitzer for local reporting went to David Umhoefer of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for stories on how county employees' pensions were padded.

Michael Ramirez of Investor's Business Daily won in the editorial cartooning category.

Mark Feeney of The Boston Globe was honored in the criticism category for his observations on movies, photography and painting.

The prize for breaking news photography went to Adrees Latif of Reuters for his photograph of a Japanese videographer who was fatally wounded in a street protest in Myanmar.

Preston Gannaway of the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire was honored in the feature photography category for a series of pictures chronicling a family coping with a parent's terminal illness.

No prizes were awarded this year in editorial writing.

The Post series on Walter Reed Army Medical Center was done by reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull and photographer Michel du Cille. It documented in sickening detail the shoddy treatment and poor living conditions for wounded soldiers.

The series caused a national outcry and led to the firing of the Army secretary. A presidential commission recommended many changes.

The first article reported "signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses" as well as "disengaged clerks, unqualified platoon sergeants and overworked case managers."

The Post was honored also for its first three days of coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting rampage, in which a mentally ill student killed 32 people and committed suicide.

Barton Gellman and Jo Becker won the national reporting award for a four-part series that examined how Cheney "has shaped his times as no vice president has before." The stories detailed his influence on the war against terror, tax and spending policies and environmental regulations.

Times reporters Walt Bogdanich and Jake Hooker were honored for investigative reporting. It was Bogdanich's third Pulitzer, and it's "every bit as exciting," he said.

"It's why I got into journalism — to make a difference," Bogdanich said.

The Pulitzers are journalism's highest honor, and the public service award is the most distinguished of all.

The awards are given by Columbia University on the recommendation of the 18-member Pulitzer board. The Pulitzers were created under the terms of the will of newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, who died in 1911. The first awards were handed out in 1917.

Each of the Pulitzers carries a prize of $10,000, except for the public service award, which is a gold medal bestowed on the newspaper.