A former Mercury reporter has won a Pulitzer Prize in audio reporting for his work on an NPR series examining American conservatives, gun rights and social media.

KCUR reporter Chris Haxel, who worked at The Mercury in 2015 and 2016, won the award Friday along with Lisa Hagen, Graham Smith and Robert Little for “No Compromise,” an NPR podcast. KCUR is the Kansas City affiliate of NPR.

“It’s a story about how people can use social media to push their ideology — and how quickly they can change their message,” Haxel told KCUR. “The lessons of this podcast aren’t just about guns. ... These guys found guns to be a wedge issue that helped them raise money and build a following on Facebook.”

The Pulitzer is journalism’s top honor with the prize board awarding the best work in a variety of categories.

The Pulitzer for audio reporting is a new prize that was first awarded in 2020.

“No Compromise” took nearly two years to report and produce.

“For the first six to nine months, we didn’t know if we had a podcast. We just knew we were investigating these guys,” Haxel said. “Somewhere along the way, we sort of realized, you know, this is not an eight-minute radio story. This is not a 30- or 60- minute radio special. If we’re going to tell the story the right way, it needs to be a podcast.”