Why bloggers should rejoice at being passed up for the Pulitzers

When will the Pulitzer committee allow online reporting to be considered for an award? People have been asking that question for more than a decade. But blog-sympathizing critics of the prize really need to ask is whether including online news would make a difference in who won.

The Pulitzer Prize is a curious award to seek. It rewards obtuse articles on public policy, favoring newspapers with expansive Washington bureaus and reporters with D.C. connections. That's not a game that pageview-seeking online reporters particularly care to play. But if they did? They wouldn't likely win. Consider a list of online stories some sources suggested as Pulitzer-worthy:

  • Matt Drudge's breaking of the Newsweek spike of Isikoff's Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky story

  • Charles Johnson of Little Green Football's debunking of the George Bush Air National Guard memos

  • The Smoking Gun's debunking of author James Frey's memoir

  • Joshua Micah Marshall of Talking Points Memo's reporting on the U.S. attorney-firing scandal

Marshall's post comes closest; it won him a Polk award. But online reporters would do well to ignore the Pulitzers, rather than froth about their exclusion. They can reach an audience far larger than a parochial newspaper. And if they do manage to influence policy with their reporting? That in itself should be the prize.