2015 Pulitzer Prizes Show That Newspapers Can Still Do Great Journalism

Tony Rogers Journalism Exp
If ever anyone needed an example of why newspapers are still important, why they still matter, just take a look at the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner

All but one of the journalism winners (people sometimes forget there are also Pulitzers for books, drama and music) went to newspapers (Bloomberg News won for explanatory reporting.) And not just the usual suspects, biggies like The New York Times or The Washington Post, but smaller papers like the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., which won for public service reporting, and the Daily Breeze in Torrance, Calif., which took the prize for local reporting.

  Papers dominated despite the fact that online news sites have been eligible to enter since 2008, and magazines became eligible this year. (Several news websites have won Pulitzers in recent years, including ProPublica and Huffington Post.)

How can this be? Online journalism, we’ve been told, represents the future of the news business. That may yet prove to be true. But the reality is that even in an age of downsized newsrooms, newspapers typically still have larger staffs than their counterparts in other media, and as such they are able to have reporters follow beats, building their expertise and knowledge about a subject area over time. In turn, those reporters are able produce the kind of in-depth journalism that is so important to the public discourse. It’s a luxury not usually afforded reporters who work in, say, local TV news.

And it’s this kind of work that goes beyond simply reporting the latest headlines, but instead gets to the heart and soul of what the best journalism has always been about: speaking truth to power, comforting the afflicted and, of course, afflicting the comfortable.

 Take, for instance, the Daily Breeze’s investigation into corruption in a small, cash-strapped school district, or The New York Times’ look at how lobbyists influence congressional leaders and state attorneys general, slanting justice toward the wealthy and connected. Both are examples of journalism doing what it should do, but never does quite enough.

But I don’t want to sound sour or pessimistic. In a way, these latest Pulitzers should give hope both to aspiring journalists and veterans of the news business. All-too often, in recent years, the only talk most of us have heard about newspapers involved phrases like “declining ad revenue” or “circulation plunge.” Print journalism has been given a label – “DOOMED” – and has been forced to wear that label for at least the past decade, deserved or not. (I happen to be one of those who thinks papers will be around for a good long while yet, but I won’t get into that here.)

The larger point? These Pulitzers show that newspapers large and small can and still do what newspapers do best – in-depth reporting that sheds light on problems that must be solved if we are to create a more perfect union. And for that, we can all be grateful.

Below is a full list of the 2015 Pulitzer winners for journalism:

PUBLIC SERVICEThe Post and Courier, Charleston, SC


INVESTIGATIVE REPORTINGTwo Prizes:Eric Lipton of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal Staff

EXPLANATORY REPORTINGZachary R. Mider of Bloomberg News

LOCAL REPORTINGRob Kuznia, Rebecca Kimitch and Frank Suraci of the Daily Breeze, Torrance, CA

NATIONAL REPORTINGCarol D. Leonnig of The Washington Post


FEATURE WRITINGDiana Marcum of the Los Angeles Times

COMMENTARYLisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle

CRITICISMMary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times

EDITORIAL WRITINGKathleen Kingsbury of The Boston Globe

EDITORIAL CARTOONINGAdam Zyglis of The Buffalo News

BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHYSt. Louis Post-Dispatch Photography Staff

FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHYDaniel Berehulak , freelance photographer, The New York Times

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