A little late, no? The Pulitzer Prize, conventional journalism's most sought-after award, is opening its doors to Web publications, eleven years after Internet reporters first tried to submit their work.
As committee members dithered in the intervening decade, the once all-important award became a booby prize. The New York Times reserves a wall in its glitzy midtown-Manhattan headquarters for all of its Pulitzers; it is now attempting to mortgage that wall, and the rest of the building, for $225 million. The Tribune Company, whose newspapers likewise play home to many Pulitzers, has filed for bankruptcy. There seems to be some correlation between a newspaper's number of Pulitzers and the depth of its financial crisis.
Which makes sense, if you think about it, because the kind of public-interest journalism that the Pulitzer committee rewards requires an oversized newsroom, with writers working on stories for months or years. It also requires a thoroughly snobbish definition of "public interest," which does not have much to do with what the public is actually interested in.
The good news: Most online publications won't be eligible! In a press release, the committee says it will only consider online news organizations which "are primarily dedicated to original news reporting, are dedicated to coverage of ongoing stories and that adhere to the highest journalistic principles." Considering what the pursuit of the Pulitzer has done to past laureates, any website still excluded from the race should consider itself a winner.