Sunday, April 6, 2008

And the Pulitzer goes to ...

Unlike the Oscars, there's no big buildup to the announcement of the Pulitzer Prizes for journalism, with lists of nominees and debates about the most deserving nominees. Not officially anyway.

Traditionally the prizes are awarded at a New York luncheon in the spring, about a month after the early April announcement of the winners but otherwise with no previous disclosure of which pieces or publications are in the running. For the past couple of decades, though, thanks to leaks from Pulitzer jurors, journalists around the country have had a pretty good idea of what has been nominated. That has allowed the familiar newsroom tableau of reporters and editors huddling around computer screens, hitting refresh on a list of wire stories until official word appears. Among other things, I expect such leaks allowed Michelle's bosses to have champagne at the ready when she won her Pulitzer back in the day.

This year's announcement of winners is tomorrow, but this time the buzz is significantly diminished. As Poynter Online describes in an interesting piece by Roy Harris, who has a new book about the Pulitzers, inside sources on the prizes are all drying up. For example, Editor & Publisher magazine has taken pride over the years in breaking the secret list of nominees, but this year, according to Harris, it has cracked only four of the 14 categories.

Dave Boardman, the Seattle Times editor who has been on the judging and receiving ends of the Pulitzer process, figures prominently in the Poynter story, and it turns out Boardman still harbors much bitterness about a 2002 Times investigation that was nominated for a prize but didn't win. That episode, in fact, is said to figure prominently in the clamming up of jurors.

Harris' piece is a good look inside this process.


Jason Bellamy said...

Well, one of the Pulitzers went to one of my favorite reads all year. "M&M" readers may want to lose themselves in this Washington Post Magazine story (with video) by Gene Weingarten about what happens when one of the "finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made" just shows up and plays at the top of an escalator in a D.C. Metro station.

It's a fascinating experiment and a terrific read. I'll let Mark determine the gliomas, but it is a Pulitzer winner.

Mark said...

Thanks for the link, Jason. I haven't read it yet, but of all the winners announced yesterday this is the one I was most interested in checking out.

Also, you've given me an idea. Why should the Pulitzers have all the fun? What we need are the annual Glioma Awards! As determined by our own genius jury, the M&M readers.