Pulitzer judges meet this weekend to begin choosing the latest winners. Chronologically, the awards come later than most, and you can find winners in awards that come out earlier in the year. There are a lot of those awards, however, so it’s not an exact predictor, said Roy J. Harris Jr., author of “Pulitzer’s Gold: Behind the Prize for Public Service Journalism,” in a phone interview with Poynter.
“And they’re secret,” he said of the Pulitzers, “so you never know who’s been nominated.”
But with Sunday’s announcement of the shared George Polk Award between The Guardian and The Washington Post for their NSA reporting, it’s worth a bit of speculation.
“It’s unusual, but not unheard of, for the Pulitzers to go to two publications covering facets of the same story,” Harris wrote in an e-mail. “Last time was 2006, when the Public Service Pulitzer went to the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and the Sun Herald in Biloxi-Gulfport, Miss., for their coverage of Hurricane Katrina.”
There was another case in 1950, he wrote, with a shared win between the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Chicago Daily News for a story about Illinois newspaper editors who were on the state payroll.
“In that rare case, the reporters — one of whom happened to be my father — actually worked together on the story,” Harris wrote.
More commonly, Pulitzers in a single category might go to two publications for different stories. Harris said the last time that happened was in 2012.
But two publications working together on a story or a series of stories may become more common, Harris said, “especially in the case where you have online-only news organizations.”
Harris wasn’t sure it would even be possible for The Guardian to enter for their NSA reporting because the Pulitzers go to U.S. newspapers. The Guardian does have a U.S.-based website, however, and Joseph Legaspi with the Pulitzer Prizes said in a phone interview with Poynter that the contest does accept entries published on The Guardian U.S’s site.
“We do accept their work.”