The Pulitzer Prize has long been a dangerous influence in American journalism, and it’s only getting worse.
For too long, newspapers have been edited for prize juries not their publics, taking resources away from local reporting to write long, show-off pieces that don’t necessarily serve their communities and that skew the priorities of newsrooms. Of course, I’m not saying that all Pulitzer-winning journalism is bad; of course, not. But I am saying that pandering to the Pulitzers is a perversion of the intent of the prize and of newspaper reporting as well.
Last year, the Pulitzers allowed just a little bit of online content to qualify for a prize. This year, they open that up to include “a full array of online material-such as databases, interactive graphics, and streaming video.” But they still insist, stubbornly, to award only journalism from newspapers.
Eligibility for entering the competition will continue to be restricted to newspapers published daily, Sunday, or at least once a week during the calendar year. “This keeps faith with the historic mandate of the Pulitzer Prizes,” Gissler said.
I thought the Pulitzers existed to award journalism, not printing.
And the more newspapers continue to define themselves narrowly, as a club, the worse their fate will be in a world of expanding journalism. That’s what I mean when I say that the negative impact of the Pulitzers is only getting worse, even as they try to make it better.
Esteemed jurors: Open up the prize. Award great journalism wherever and however and by whomever it is committed.