Is It Bad to Nominate Yourself for an Award?S

Yesterday, New York Times foreign correspondent Jeffrey Gettleman (pictured) won a Pulitzer for his reporting on strife and famine in Africa. Though the Times traditionally decides who of its reporters deserve nominations, Gettleman didn't wait for the bosses—he nominated himself. Does that make him an asshole?

The NYT included this distinctly ambiguous bit of praisehate in its own story: "While 'some reporters might have felt his editors knew best' about the nomination, said Joseph Kahn, The Times's foreign editor, 'Jeffrey put himself forward for the Pulitzers — and for that, Jeffrey, bless your heart.'"

Haha! "Bless your heart" is what polite southern women say as a synonym for "fuck you, you selfish prick." It is safe to assume that the Times, as an institution, would like to maintain control of its own Pulitzer nominations, because they use them as a carefully considered form of reward or a public statement of significance, and also because the New York Times is a bloated bureaucratic ship floating on a sea of self-regard.

Still, fuck them. The real question is, does it necessarily make you an asshole, to nominate yourself for an award? No. Not necessarily. It could be perfectly reasonable to nominate yourself for an award based on any of the following circumstances:

  • 1. Though you're deserving, your bosses would not nominate you out of personal spite.
  • 2. Though you're deserving, your work has been publicly ignored, and it would be a public good if an award helped more people discover your work, because your work is that important.
  • 3. You are nominating yourself for an award as a joke.

I don't know how Gettleman's bosses feel about him, but I'd say he qualifies under condition number two, so his self-nomination can be excused. Though all of the above conditions should be assumed to include the necessary corollary:

  • 1. If you take any action with the express purpose of getting yourself an award, you are a narcissist.

[Photo: AP]