May 31, 2018

Up the steps he walked. At the top, he met Dana Canedy, the recently named administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes.

Inside, the stars of The New York Times, The New Yorker and The Washington Post were eating lunch, surrounded by award-winning reporters, editors and photographers from other news organizations and international agencies such as Reuters. Poets, novelists, historians and playwrights ate alongside them.

Outside, Kendrick Lamar shook the hand of the first woman and first African-American head of the Pulitzers. Canedy ushered the first hip-hop artist to win the Pulitzer for music into the 102nd annual conferring of the awards.

“Congratulations," she told Lamar. "We’re both making history this year."

Kendrick Lamar shakes hands with Dana Canedy
Kendrick Lamar shakes hands with Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy before being awarded his prize for music. (Photo/David Beard)

Lamar may be the leading edge of a more representative set of award-winners in the years to come. Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, known for her portraits of James Baldwin, Toni Morrison and Dave Chappelle, won this year's feature writing award for a GQ profile of Charleston mass murderer and white supremacist Dylann Roof. James Forman Jr. won the general nonfiction award for his shattering history, “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.”

On this day, Lamar, Ghansah and Forman shared the stage with reporters who have traced corruption in the Trump administration, brought to light the shady past of a GOP senatorial candidate in Alabama, intensely covered a city riven by opioids or put their own homes’ safety on hold while getting out a story to help a community swept up in a fast-moving series of wildfires.

In the audience sat Mia Farrow, Rosanna Arquette and Annabella Sciorra — testimony to decades of sexual harassment and abuse by Harvey Weinstein, the first target in an overdue #MeToo and #TimesUp movement. (Related: Weinstein's indictment on Wednesday.)

Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, said America’s democracy faces its biggest challenge since the journalism and arts prizes began. "We are living in an era that demands of us a new understanding of and confrontation with the abuses of power," Bollinger told the audience.

Or, as “Pulitzer Kenny” Lamar would say in “Pride”:

The hurt becomes repetition, the love almost lost that
Sick venom in men and women overcome with pride
A perfect world is never perfect, only filled with lies
Promises are broken and more resentment comes alive
Race barriers make inferior you and I

With more Kendrick Lamars taking the Pulitzer stage, along with journalists and artists exploring these issues, who knows the impact of future awards?


Below, by photographer Steffen A. Kaplan, are this year’s Pulitzer winners in one image. In the front row, Lamar stands near the center, Pulitzer board chair Eugene Robinson is on the left and Canedy, the Pulitzer administrator, is on the right. How many winners can you spot?

The 2018 winners of the Pulitzer Prizes

Quick hits

NEW THIS MORNING: The former editorial page editor of the Denver Post, who shined a spotlight on the hedge-fund owners who are strangulating Colorado's biggest paper, is joining the University of Colorado Boulder to direct CU News Corps, which supplies investigative and long-form journalism to state outlets. Chuck Plunkett is a "champion for journalistic excellence," says Lori Bergen, dean of CU's College of Media, Communication and Information, and member of Poynter's board of trustees. He's "the conscience of our community," says Dean Singleton, former Denver Post owner. Plunkett will join the News Corps in the fall. 

SLAIN: Another reporter in Mexico, one of the deadliest places in the world to practice journalism. The beaten body of Hector Gonzalez Antonio, from the national newspaper Excelsior, was found just south of the country’s border with Texas, The Associated Press reported. As the correspondent for a national outlet, Gonzalez’s most recent stories reflected the violence and corruption present in Tamaulipas state. More than 30 journalists have been killed in Mexico in the past five and a half years

NOT SLAIN: It turns the reports of AP and others on the assassination of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko were, um, greatly exaggerated. Authorities said Wednesday his death had been staged to foil a plot on his life by Moscow’s security services and that one arrest was made. “I’m still alive,” Babchenko told a news conference, apologizing for the deception to colleagues — and to his wife.

IS FAKING YOUR DEATH EVER COOL JOURNALISTICALLY?: Poynter's Al Tompkins, while acknowledging extraordinary circumstances in the Babchenko case, puts it this way: "Reasonable people understand that extreme circumstances produce extreme decisions; way out of line with everyday ethics. Generally, journalists should not be part of a government deception plot. Generally, journalists should not be part of something that will produce untrue global coverage."

SILO-BUSTING: At first glance, it looks like NPR is getting rid of five blogs. But it will still be doing most of those stories, it just won’t have the responsibility of a little-read topic or blog homepage cluttering up, says Sara Kehaulani Goo, a managing editor overseeing digital operations. "We kind of made it hard for our audience to understand what we were doing," Goo said. Another candidate for simplification and amplification: podcasts and material that originated from or complements those podcasts.  

DON’T BE BORING: Actually, the Anchorage Daily News had a slightly different three-word mantra as it re-thought events coverage based on a signature event: the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

NEVERMIND: Sinclair Broadcasting rescinded a $25,000 pledge to a national photographers organization after photographers criticized the dictated pro-Trump commentary Sinclair pushed on its viewers. In response, groups and individuals raised $45,000 to help the NPPA.

NAMED: Vincent Sadusky, formerly of Telemundo, will be the next chief executive officer of the Spanish-language giant Univision Communications Inc.

EXPANDING: The WSJ Weekend paper is adding a section called Exchange this Saturday. Emily Gitter was recently named Editor of Weekend Business and Finance.

AND THE PLURAL OF EMOJI?: Yes, the new AP Stylebook is out, and Poynter’s Taylor Blatchford tells you what’s changed. (And if you just want to know the plural of emoji, it’s … emoji).

What we’re reading

‘THE NEGROES ARE HERE!’: That’s what alarmed (white) patrons said when 29 students from Alabama State College strolled into a courthouse restaurant one February day in 1960, requesting service. Nine students were expelled from school. Fifty-eight years later, Alabama’s education superintendent has cleared them — and apologized. “They represent a time in the history of the state board that must be acknowledged and never repeated,” superintendent Ed Richardson said.

NOT HARSHING YOUR MELLOW: This neuroscientist, though not railing against marijuana legalization, wants to point out the inconveniently alarming studies about what pot does to the adolescent brain.

EQUAL RIGHTS: Illinois lawmakers approved the Equal Rights Amendment on Wednesday night, 45 years after it was approved by Congress, the Chicago Tribune reports. If supporters of the amendment can transcend legal challenges, the measure is just one state away from possible enshrinement in the U.S. Constitution. The original 1982 ratification deadline has expired, but supports say the 1992 ratification of the 1789 “Madison Amendment,” preventing midterm changes in congressional pay, makes the ERA a legally viable change to the constitution.

HEARTWARMER: Love defeats hate: He flew through the air, hit by a car as he rushed to save a woman from a white supremacist in Charlottesville. A year later, he married her, and the same Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer captured that, too. (Note: In a conversation Wednesday with the photographer, Ryan M. Kelly, he told me just how honored he was to be invited and asked to work the ceremony. Kelly, with his parents watching, collected his Pulitzer on Wednesday.) 

Here’s one of Kelly’s images from the weekend marriage and reception:

We asked, you answered: Still get a paper? Have delivery troubles? Solutions?

First off, thanks to so many of you who wrote after yesterday’s story on a Maine newspaper group’s delivery problems (Update: the Maine group got 10 new carrier applications on Tuesday, says publisher Lisa DeSisto). Here’s my best shot at a representative sampling of your comments, slightly edited for brevity:

From Celeste Akkad, of Carmel, California: “We no longer subscribe to our local paper given its near-demise thanks to Alden (Global Capital, a hedge-fund owner of newspapers). However, our New York Times is delivered via their system. It's been an off-and-on-again setup and mostly off or slow in the past several months. I've even had to notify the NYT of non-delivery or past 11 a.m. delivery quite a few times. While I tend to read most of my news … online now, I still relish the old school holding, folding, smearing myself with newsprint days!”

From Mary Ann Sternberg of Louisiana: I get the daily The Advocate (Baton Rouge) delivered — often on time. However, for 25 years, I got the daily New York Times (but not Sunday) delivered. Four months ago, the contractor said he wouldn’t have his delivery guy serve me any longer unless I wanted to pay a lot more because I was now the only address within a mile radius and it took too much time. He also told me he’d been a contractor for 30 years, raised three girls on what he made, but now, only because his wife is still working, are they doing all right.

Joanne Ritter, California: I stopped complaining after our deliveryman's wife explained the squeeze they are in. Carriers are now expected to deliver a range of papers, and they must wait for all of them to show up before they can start their rounds. We used to enjoy our morning paper with breakfast before work, but it rarely arrives on time anymore. Now, we hit the screens first, and read what we haven't already read at lunch. I keep debating whether the cost is worth it, but we like the word puzzles — hard to do those on a screen.

Avery Brott, Camden, Maine: My family subscribes to the e-version of The New York Times, which includes Sunday's physical edition delivered to our home in midcoast Maine. This arrangement is perfect because while I read the NYT online in order to keep up with daily events while I'm at work, the paper version takes us about a week to fully devour … It's a thankless task to deliver a paper in the wee hours, especially under adverse conditions, and while we may occasionally grumble about a missed delivery, we're still incredibly fortunate to have this relative luxury available.

Elida Witthoeft, Connecticut: Newspapers are in enough trouble and this is just making it all more complicated for them if they cannot effectively get the papers to our houses anymore. I was a newspaper reporter and editor for 18 years before I joined ESPN in 1998. I worked at four newspapers in the Midwest … and remember how strict the deadlines were to get the presses started on time. 

My (86-year-old) mom, on a regular basis, harangues me to cancel the deliveries because they are so expensive. I won’t do that because she reads all of them (and she’s not a digital user). When she’s gone, I can’t say I will continue home delivery because it’s so undependable (and I read most of my home-delivered papers online, anyway). Would I miss the Sunday Times magazine and its crossword? Yes. But I won’t miss the daily struggle with the circulation departments.

I think the publisher in Maine has the right idea … make the jobs good ones, important ones. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she can fill her jobs.


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