So maybe many people weren’t necessarily shocked the National Enquirer didn’t win a Pulitzer for investigative reporting or national news. Journalism snobs aside, just the nomination was a hard pill for some to swallow. But, just the fact that they were nominated shows the extreme change in the landscape of journalism. According to Sig Gissler, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, “You could see they’re really doing serious journalism” as he spoke of the non-typical Pulitzer entries. He also stated that he thought over time the non-traditional media outlets are going to get nothing but stronger.
While the usual suspects, the Washington Post (won four) and the New York Times (won three) were ahead of the pack, for the first time an online journalism website has won, ProPublica, for an in-depth look at the staff of a hospital during Hurricane Katrina. It was written by Sherry Fink. This alone shows that there is certainly hope for writers that are not connected to a large newspaper or media outlet. ProPublica started in 2008 and produces news for free to other news organizations.
So many of our long standing newspapers have fallen by the wayside as ad revenue declined, readership declined and in many cases the great in-depth reporting they were once known for became almost obsolete. Investigative reporting teams were disbanded because of lack of funds and reporters were cut at most papers that were already experiencing skeleton staffing overload. It’s wasn’t just the economy, although that was a big part, but it was the 24/7 news cycle that became the “it” of the news industry. Newspapers that didn’t jump on the bandwagon in some way, be it their own internet news site or something equally as compelling to readers were lost in the archives.
So, the likes of the Washington Post and the New York Times will from this day forward find themselves in the Pulitzer Prize competition with tabloid reporters, online reporters, and eventually who knows what or whom? It’s true the tabloids pay their sources and might have an easier time getting tips, but tips do not a Pulitzer Prize winning writer make. It’s anyone’s game now. No longer the bastion of the snobs and elite press, a tabloid rag has shown they can be in the running too. Hopefully it all shakes out in the end, with the best writers winning whether they pay or get paid peanuts.