Pulitzers discover the future

Well, at long last, the Pulitzers have acknowledged the existence of news after paper. The Times-Picayune won two Pulitzers today for coverage of Katrina. Nola.com should have won explicitly as well, but at least there is this:

This year for the first time, the Pulitzer Prize board allowed a newspaper to submit material that appeared originally in online form, in addition to printed stories, as a part of their entries.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, The Times-Picayune’s continuously updated online blog, as well as its online editions of the paper posted each night on its affiliated Web site, NOLA.com, became the source of information for more than a million area residents who had evacuated, and for much of the world.
In his remarks, Amoss acknowledged the contribution of the staff at NOLA.com, “who were integral to everything we published, and made us an around-the-clock vital link to readers scattered across the nation.”

Visits, or “hits,” to Times-Picayune pages on NOLA.com, increased from an average of about 800,000 page views a day before Katrina to more than 30 million page hits a day in the days after the storm. Excerpts from those blogs, as well as stories from the online editions of the paper, made up a portion of both of the newspaper’s winning entries.

: Here are Rex Hammock and me wishing for a Pulitzer for their online efforts. (Full disclosure: Nola.com was of the sites I helped start in my last job, so I’m prejudiced.)

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  • Somer Simpson

    You shouldn’t forget the other gold medal winner in the Public Service category for Katrina coverage – The Biloxi Sun Herald and SunHerald.com. Throughout the days following the storm and even before the coastal hit, the Sun Herald was well ahead of other local media in its online coverage. It may not have had the 30 million pvs of NOLA, but a 1700% increase in traffic in one day and and a 300% ongoing retention rate of that traffic is an amazing story, especially considering the majority of that traffic was due mainly to user contributed content. Here’s the entry for that site: http://www.realcitiesnetwork.com/presentations/katrina/

  • Amen, Somer

    … and Jeff if you click the link that Somer provides, you will see on the right hand column under the list of “Reader-Submitted Photos”, those user contributed photos are hosted and maintained at Buzznet which partners with dozens of small and medium sized papers from coast to coast.

    we may not get the high profile love, or blog chatter as some of the other photo sharing or video sharing sites out there, but the Sun Herald sure understands our contribution to their Pulizter.

    so congrats to them and congrats to nola and all the other winners today.

  • Doesn’t it look as if the public is shifting from simply consuming news from particular sources, and branching out to find its own. When traditional sources of news are issuing misinformation, there is a hastening away from what is increasingly propaganda and a movement into first person, authentic sources. NOLA.com did a great job, realcities establishes itself. Great news.

  • Sean Dougherty

    Question: Has anyone checked the stories that won to see if they were accurate? My first reaction to this was: how can a disaster in journalistic accuracy equaled only by the disaster caused by the hurricane possibly win a journalism award? Did the Times-Picayune manage to avoid reporting on the murders and rapes at the Superdome or the snipers shooting at rescue helicpoters? I admit, I don’t remember exactly where all those errors first emerged but it seems like any paper that included them should be shut out of journalism’s highest award.

  • It took a natural disaster to get the Pulitzer committee to recognize the value of online journalism? Lovely. Better late than never, I guess. Are we going to have to wait until there’s a Tsunami to actually get an award for online journalism? Wait a minute, in 10 years all the Pulitizers will be for online journalism.

  • Howard: It also took a national disaster to make the Times-Picayune a good paper. I’m too young to have known if it was ever a good paper beforehand, but now it is a pretty decent source of information. (Then again, now we have all the source material in the world for local news.) Now, you can check up on nola.com throughout the day and night as they post news, and aggregate it up into the day’s paper at 2am or whatever the cutoff happens to be. It’s great.

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