April 16, 2013

Discussion of the winners and finalists for the 2013 Pulitzer Prizes was muted Monday, as news producers and consumers turned their attention to the bombings in Boston. But 24 hours later, enough time has passed for a little journo-navel-gazing:

What does it take for women to win Pulitzers? Before 1991, a graduate degree and a Northeastern upbringing helped, University of Missouri professor Yong Volz and Chinese University of Hong Kong professor Francis L. F. Lee write in a new study. The study, which I first wrote about in October, was published by Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly earlier this month.

Those advantages compensated for a historical bias against women both in newsrooms and in prize competitions, Volz and Lee write. Statistics showed them the importance of those advantages lessened after 1991, but “gender disadvantage has not completely disappeared,” they write.

Even after 1991, only 26.9% of all Pulitzer winners in journalism were females. The percentage is lower than the percentage of females in American newsrooms, which stands at about 33%.

What does it take for The Wall Street Journal to win a Pulitzer? Since Rupert Murdoch bought the paper, commentary, Erik Maza writes. The Pulitzer board “has not awarded the paper a single prize for its reporting since 2007,” the year Murdoch took over. (It has “been a finalist eight times since then, though, according to the Pulitzer online archives,” Roy J. Harris wrote.) Tim Graham of the Media Research Center notes:


What does it take for an online outlet to win a Pulitzer? Same as anybody else. “We try to fill in the gaps that exist in American journalism that are more and more common,” InsideClimate News Publisher David Sassoon told The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin. Pulitzer honcho Sig Gissler told the Associated Press InsideClimate News “exemplified a larger trend among the winners — a commitment to watchdog journalism.”

“It’s a very hopeful sign,” Gissler said. “It really shows the way the journalism ethos reconfigures itself as times change.”

Do the Pulitzers still matter? They don’t, Jack Shafer memorably argued in 2009. An editorial in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which won in the public service category for a series on cops who speed, argues for the defense:

Too often these days, the media is seen in a negative light, somewhere south of Congress, blamed for almost every social ill. …

Yet since the digital revolution hit newspapers, staffs are not as large as they once were, and we have to pick our shots. The strategy of Sun Sentinel Editor Howard Saltz is to cover local news like a rug, with a special emphasis on investigative journalism. After all, if not us, who else is going to dig deep on the issues that matter most close to home?

Also, it’s fun to win one, as the Sun-Sentinel video in the story about its win shows.

Related: Javier Manzano first freelance photographer to win Pulitzer in 17 years | Pulitzer, finalists are source of pride for Poynter | Tampa Bay Times wins Pulitzer, reacts to announcement | Winners to watch for when the Pulitzers are announced today

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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