prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

100 Years of Pulitzers

Posted by prof e on April 19, 2016

CentennialMarkwithMedalPulitzer Prizes, arguably the most prestigious awards in journalism, were awarded yesterday and we were reminded, yet again, of the importance and significance of a free press. A quick glance at the winners reveals reporting, commenting, and editing on a wide range of issues of grave importance. For example: slavery, public school performance (or lack thereof), police brutality, and abusive behavior in mental institutions and prisons were topics that were recognized and acknowledged.

The role of the press as guardians of all that is good and right is a long-standing tradition that has come under great attack in recent years. Sloppy and biased reporting, ideological campaigns masquerading as objective coverage, and economic pressure to turn a profit have eroded the trust and credibility that took so long to build. According to Poynter Institute, a Pulitzer Prize was once retracted. In 1981, The Washington Post‘s Janet Cooke was awarded a prize for feature writing. It was retracted two days later when the Post learned it was fabricated.

American consumers of news have long counted on objective reporters shining lights in dark corners to root out corruption and malfeasance. The fact that the Pulitzers are 100 years old this year is a reminder that the legacy of journalism endures despite the disruptive nature of digital media technology. It is not just a little ironic that the prize is named for Joseph Pulitzer, one of the newspaper publishers best known for the scandalous rise of Yellow Journalism at the end of the 19th century. Pulitzer’s New York World was a significant part of the problem back then. Perhaps that is why the name associated with the newspaper was in need of rehabilitation; which the prize provides.

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