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.