On the 100th birthday of the Pulitzer Prizes, many are asking for an overhaul

Posted April 21

The Pulitzer Prizes turned 100 on April 18, and while awards in categories like literature have been controversial in the past, some are now asking whether the prestigious journalism prizes need to change to better fit the digital age.

Among the winners for this year's Pulitzers, the New Yorker magazine became the first magazine to win the award (nabbing two awards for criticism and feature writing), while the New York Times took home top awards for breaking news photography and the Los Angeles Times won for best breaking news for its coverage of the San Bernardino shooting.

"The prizes have the capability to define the profession of journalism as it undergoes massive transformation," Poynter's Benjamin Mullin reported. "But to do so will require creative thinking from an institution that for most of its existence has remained rooted in its tree-and-ink heritage."

The journalism Pulitzers aren't strangers to change, which may bode well for those hoping for a category re-vamp. According to Poynter, only two of the original categories remain and other digital-friendly categories, like one for online-only publications, are now fixtures in the Pulitzer lineup.

Yet there are many changes that Mullin argued should be made to keep the journalism Pulitzers relevant — including adding a category for broadcast journalism or even allowing readers to weigh in on the judging process.

Such a move, Mullin contended, would not only extend the prizes' credibility, but give journalists surviving in a floundering industry hope for the future.

"Prizes like the Pulitzers give our colleagues succor in an industry beset by layoffs and daily pressure to abandon deep digging," Mullin argued. "They're indispensable, which is why it's crucial that they remain vital in the modern media age."


Twitter: ChandraMJohnson


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