The celebration of the best American journalism continues; binge on these documentaries; new Katrina podcast project

April 17, 2019

The halo effect

Links. Lots and lots of links today as we celebrate the very best of journalism.

Pulitzer Prize day was Monday, but as we wait (sigh) for the redacted Mueller report, we can still catch up on what was a superb 2018 for journalism.

Also today, the Peabody Awards named their best documentaries of the year and why Monday was not all good for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, despite winning a Pulitzer.

But let’s start with those who didn’t win the Pulitzer.

Many newsrooms around the country celebrated with champagne, smiles and tears Monday when they learned they had won a Pulitzer Prize, American journalism’s most prestigious award.

That should not take away from the tremendous work done in many of the hundreds of newsrooms where Pulitzers were not won. That includes those who might have been disappointed to not take home the big prize, but should be proud to have been named a finalist.

For example, there might not have been a more haunting piece of audio in 2018 than listening to children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, while one border agent jokes, “We have an orchestra here.” That was a part of ProPublica’s “Zero Tolerance” coverage, a finalist in the Public Service category.

Also a finalist in Public Service was the Washington Post’s reporting on the murder of Saudi-born Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

There’s so much more.

Such as the Tampa Bay Times’ “Heartbroken,” which looked at the alarming rate of pediatric deaths from heart procedures that forced major changes at a children’s hospital. Such as “Denied Justice,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s disturbing series that exposed breakdowns in the investigation and prosecution of rape cases. Such as Caitlin Flanagan’s columns in The Atlantic, which deftly explored the intersection of gender and politics.

So consider this a public service announcement. Go to the Pulitzer website and read what amounts to just a fraction of the best journalism in 2018. Read the finalists. And read the winners, from Tony Messenger’s columns in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to Brent Staples editorials about race in the New York Times to the Associated Press’ amazing work about the atrocities of the war in Yemen.

It will be well worth your time.

The Pulitzer’s smaller victories

The Capital Gazette newspaper. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Poynter’s Kristen Hare writes:

Local newsrooms were stars in the 2019 Pulitzer Prizes. Whether their staffs dealt with fewer resources, tragedy or ownership issues, each produced extraordinary work for their communities.

“Journalism is a hard job,” Capital Gazette editor Rick Hutzell told Poynter after that newsroom won a Pulitzer citation. “It doesn’t require a huge amount of reimagining …You can show up at your county council and read the budget and look at the police records. You can look around your community and celebrate the victories, point out what could be better, point out what’s wrong.”

Your next binge list …

 

The Peabody Awards, which will recognize winners in broadcasting and digital media at its gala May 18 in New York, revealed their top documentaries on Tuesday. They were:

The Peabody board also named Kartemquin Films winner of an Institutional Award for its work. Kartemquin, founded in Chicago in 1966, made this year’s Peabody winner, “Minding the Gap,” as well as “Hoop Dreams,” the 1994 classic that followed two high school students from Chicago and their dream of becoming professional basketball stars.

Pulitzers by the numbers

How many Pulitzer Prize finalists were from newspapers? What was the split between men and women? Which news organization had the most finalists? For the answers, my Poynter colleague Daniel Funke broke down the Pulitzers by the numbers in a cool interactive chart.

Daniel also rounded up this year’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoons by Darrin Bell, a freelancer whose work is distributed by the Washington Post Writers Group. (Note: Ardent supporters of President Donald Trump might want to skip Bell’s cartoons.)

The Athletic drafts Pittsburgh writer

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette celebrated a Pulitzer Prize on Monday, winning the award in Breaking News for its coverage of the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue.

But the Post-Gazette got some bad news Monday when longtime Steelers’ beat writer, Ed Bouchette, announced he was leaving the paper to join The Athletic. Two takeaway thoughts about this: Covering the Steelers is a huge deal in football-crazy western Pennsylvania. The other is that Bouchette has been covering the Steelers for the Post-Gazette since 1984. Combine those two and that makes Bouchette something of a rock star in Pittsburgh.

In announcing his move in a piece for The Athletic, Bouchette wrote, “I put my newspaper career in … the rear view, but certainly not my journalistic career.”

Two other Post-Gazette sportswriters (Stephen J. Nesbitt and Sean Gentille) also left for The Athletic.

This is just the latest example of The Athletic, a subscription-based and advertising-free sports website started three years ago, poaching one of the top beat writers from a local paper to bolster its coverage.

Katrina podcast in the works

The Atlantic has begun production on a limited-run podcast about Hurricane Katrina. The series will launch in the fall. Atlantic staff writer Vann R. Newkirk II will host the podcast with Katherine Wells as executive producer.

In a statement, Atlantic Executive Editor Adrienne LaFrance said, “It makes great sense to pair Katherine with a reporter like Vann, who runs toward the biggest and most complex stories, and has a natural instinct for excavating forgotten histories as a way to understand what lies ahead.”

Check it out

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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