Pulitzer Winners Offer Few Surprises
I like that the Pulitzer board split the Public Service award between the New Orleans Times -Picayune and The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. Both papers worked mightily to cover Hurricane Katrina and found themselves faced with the same challenges as the citizens they were covering (see my story on the Times Pic's struggle here; I outline Knight Ridder's tremendous effort to help the Sun-Herald here). That the TP also won breaking news highlights that their work overall was more groundbreaking, and still involved the entire staff.
Among the big dogs, the Washington Post took home four, compared to the New York Times' three -- most for stories which have dominated the national conversation for months, including James Risen and Eric Lichtblau's NSA spying story (NYT), Dana Priest's secret CIA prison stories (Post), and Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi's Jack Abramoff revelations (Post). Among smaller papers, the Rocky Mountain News scored two -- for feature writing and photography -- which was also impressive.
(And for you curmudgeons who always grouse about postings on awards, know that these awards often influence future press coverage by highlighting what the industry values. And I'm not just saying that because Times editor-in-chief Paul Tash sits on the Pulitzer Board and managing editor Stephen Buckley was a judge. Not at all.)
On a personal note, it was cool to see longtime fashion writer Robin Givhan of the Washington Post win in criticism -- both because she's a St. Pete times alum and because, usually, the award goes to something highfalutin' like architecture or classical music -- while other Times alums Priest and David Finkel also help us hometown folks feel good as an incubator of great talent. What makes us feel not-so-good: though rivals the Miami Herald and Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale both were named as runners-up for awards, the St. Petersburg Times was not.
Guess there's always next year.