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Do Pulitzer Prizes Have A Future? April 16, 2009

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Convergence, Journalism, News, Reviews, Social Media, Trends.

It is said that when you win a Pulitzer Prize, you enter an aristocracy of excellence. The joke is that when you win a Pulitzer Prize, the first line of your obituary has been written. Now that newspapers are kaput (well, almost) will journalism’s highest honors need an epitaph? pulitzer_front_logo

The winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes will be announced at Columbia University in New York on Monday. Almost a century after the prizes were founded, print journalism is in turmoil as papers struggle to stay afloat.

Now even the prizes are changing as the world of media evolves. Originally, there were no prizes for poetry and photography. Since 1999, the prizes have expanded its scope to include online material, which now cover all categories in all forms.

You could submit online material on newspaper Web sites. Interactive graphics to videos could be submitted in all the categories with the exception of photography, a category still restricted to still images.

2007 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography by Oded Balilty of AP. Image shows a Jewish settler challenging Israeli security officers during clashes as authorities cleared a West Bank settlement.

This year, the Pulitzers are expanded further to cover online-only news organizations that publish regularly, that are primarily devoted to original news reporting and continuing coverage of events.

Despite evolving with the media landscape, currently there are no prizes awarded specifically for multimedia content. The Pulitzer Board is encouraging entrants to blend online components with text components, which is really where journalism is today.

It’s this hybrid of text and images and graphics. I think that’s one of the strengths of the Pulitzer Prizes for journalism right now. They reflect the nature of journalism today. Other competitions have separate silos: They put the print material in one silo, and they put the online material in another silo. I don’t think that’s the way journalism is evolving.

Sig Gissler, Administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes

While broadening the competition, the Board stressed that all entered material – should come from United States news organizations that are “primarily dedicated to original news reporting and that “adhere to the highest journalistic principles.”

And do J schools get it? Journalism and digital skills must be taught in a more integrated way to give a better sense of the impact that the Web has on what a journalist does. Journalists today need a better understanding of how when they write for the Web, or produce for the Web, it changes the way they go about conceptualizing a story.

The problem with the media industry today is not the journalism. In fact, the more media change, the better the journalism. The problem is generating revenue to support the journalism as the industry goes through a transition.

A lot of what you needed to know to be a journalist five or 10 years ago was taught in the context of the traditional newsroom. There were lots of editors, there were lots of people with institutional knowledge and that kind of thing. What you need now is all that plus the new skills that readers expect, and the truth is that a lot of newsrooms aren’t well-equipped to teach you that.

Bill Grueskin, Dean of Academic Affairs, Columbia Journalism School


1. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily SG: 17 Apr 2009 - April 17, 2009

[…] Life, the universe and everything – ringisei: If a resident made a complaint but not in writing – Gimme Some Truth!: Meet Singapore’s new mascot for the Asian Youth Games! – AngryAngMo: The 5 Best Flea Markets In Singapore – Singapore Sports Fan: Pole vaulter Sean Lim breaks first record of National Schools Track and Field Championships [Thanks SSF] – NO BUNS NO LIFE: Never Heard Before VIEWS on SINGAPORE by Taiwanese. Interesting. – Webs@Work: Do Pulitzer Prizes Have A Future? […]

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