Sure, Online Journalism Nets Its First Pulitzer Prize, But Will A Blog Ever Win?

from the times-they-are-a-changin' dept

Cram was the first amongst many to submit the story that online publications won Pulitzer Prizes for the first time ever. Sherri Fink of ProPublica, a non-profit online journalism service, won the investigative reporting prize for her piece about overworked doctors in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which was co-published in the New York Times Magazine. Mark Fiore won for his editorial cartoons on, which marks the first time that an online-only entity has won a Pulitzer. To us, this is only an affirmation of a trend that we’ve been watching here for years. Nothing about a physical newspaper inherently makes it better suited for doing great reporting. Print and online are just a mediums, and as consumption patterns shift towards online, we should see more of this in the future. As we’ve seen recently with the breaking of the huge Collateral Murder story by Wikileaks, there’s an opportunity to do great hard-hitting investigative reporting not only outside of the print medium, but also outside of the traditional journalistic institutions themselves. The question is, will Pulitzer recognize such efforts? From the Pulitzer eligibility rules:

Entries for journalism awards must be based on material coming from a text-based United States newspaper or news site that publishes at least weekly during the calendar year and that adheres to the highest journalistic principles.

So, it’s unclear whether or not blogs would be eligible for a Pulitzer. Plenty of blogs would meet the weekly publishing requirement, but from the rest of the definition it would appear that any site not affiliated with an “official” news site would not be eligible. As for the “highest journalistic principles,” The National Enquirer was accepted as a nominee this year, so surely there’s a blog or two out there that can bring their quality of reporting up to that level.

That said, the Pulitzer does not have to change their rules to include blogs, after all, by definition, it is a prize for the newspaper industry. Magazines and broadcast news are also not eligible. But, these prohibitions seem artificial since many of the prizes focus on reporting, and plenty of quality reporting happens outside of the newspapers. Times change, and if the Pulitzer wants to continue to be relevant in the public eye, it needs to evolve or it risks becoming a big award in a small pond.

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Comments on “Sure, Online Journalism Nets Its First Pulitzer Prize, But Will A Blog Ever Win?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

So, what happens to the Pulitzer when newspapers are completely a thing of the past?

A better question is, what happens to the Pulitzer when newspapers adapt to the digital world (by discontinuing print), but Pulitzer refuses to adapt their rules? Is a newspaper still a newspaper without the paper? If so, what is so different about a paperless newspaper and a blog?

McBeese says:

Journalism is more than media

Journalism is more than format. Journalism is about reporting, research, verification, editing, and proof-reading. Too many blogs are little more than opinions and typos, neither of which is prize-worthy. After all, we all have lots of both. Even this post was submitted without editing or proof reading.

One of the differentiating values of old media is quality. I hope that value isn’t lost in the struggle to adapt to new formats.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Journalism is more than media

“One of the differentiating values of old media is quality.”

One of the differentiating values used to be quality. With a few exceptions, the old media gave up on quality years ago. I’m talking journalistic quality, not proofreading. It’s a shame, and if they were to recapture the old values, the young whippersnappers would have a more difficult time competing, regardless of the medium.

Paul Harris (user link) says:

Right on ProPublica

Congrats to Pro Publica. I recently started following them in relation to the N.O. Police brutality and murders, and found their interactive reporting with public input, as well as working with other organizations and demanding accuracy to be quite refreshing.

As a tourist who was trapped in the Superdome, the media’s mis-reporting right after Katrina was almost criminal.

Paul Harris
Author, “Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina”

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