World | USA

Modernity meets tradition in Pulitzer prize

No award this year for fiction and editorial writing as digital-focused media continues with victories

  • By James Rainey and Jessica Garrison
  • Published: 00:00 April 18, 2012
  • Gulf News

Tarana Akbari, 12, screams in fear moments after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in a crowd
  • Image Credit: AFP
  • Tarana Akbari, 12, screams in fear moments after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in a crowd at the Abul Fazel Shrine in Kabul in this December 6, 2011 photo. This image by Masoud Hussaini of Agence France-Presse won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography as announced on Monday.
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New York: The Pulitzer Prizes for journalism awarded here on Monday demonstrated the resilience of old media and the ascendance of the new, as the venerable Philadelphia Inquirer won the prestigious public service medal while the seven-year-old Huffington Post took the national reporting prize for its exploration of the challenges that confront wounded US service members.

Digital-focused media first leaped into the Pulitzer winner's circle last year when ProPublica won the national reporting prize. That emergence continued this year with victories by the Arianna Huffington-founded website once known mostly for aggregation and by the Washington-based site Politico, which won a prize for Matt Wuerker's editorial cartooning.

‘No fiction prize'

At the same time, The New York Times, a regular in the prize circle, was the only multiple winner, with prizes for international reporting and explanatory reporting, bringing its all-time total to 108.

The 96th annual Pulitzer announcements at Columbia University were also notable for the prizes not given: no award this year for editorial writing and, more surprisingly, none for fiction writing. It's been 35 years since the Pulitzer board chose not to present a fiction prize.

The Inquirer's win for "Assault on Learning" represented a show of resilience for one of America's oldest newspapers, which recently emerged from bankruptcy and is now under its fifth owner in six years. Repeated downsizing since 1999 has trimmed the staff from 620 to 217.

The judges praised the work for using a multimedia presentation to reveal pervasive violence in the public schools and to "stir reforms to improve safety for teachers and students." Inquirer editor Stan Wischnowski said his staff "has not been this happy in years." The website created by Huffington was honoured for what the judges described as David Wood's "riveting exploration of the physical and emotional challenges facing American soldiers severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan during a decade of war." Sometimes derided for merely showcasing others' original reporting, the site has built one of the largest news audiences on the internet. Huffington said the win "shows that singular, vibrant reporting can thrive on the web, and indeed be enhanced by it." She also called the honour "great for people over 50. David Wood is 66. ... It's never too late." The Los Angeles Times had three Pulitzer finalists for its work in 2011.

— Los Angeles Times

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