Validated by the Pulitzer

Journalism’s most coveted prize, the Pulitzer, was awarded this week.  And, according to the Associated Press , “new media outlets scored unprecedented recognition in a competition long dominated by newspapers.”  It’s about time.

Communications professionals have been talking for years about the wave of new media outlets that first was changing and now has changed the media landscape.  We work differently because of the way these new outlets function – faster and more immediate.  Newspapers, magazines and broadcast media have been talking about this competition and what it means to traditional media at length for the same period of time. 

“It is a validation,” said Stephen Engelberg, managing editor for ProPublica, this year’s recipient, together with the New York Times Magazine, of the Pulitzer for investigative journalism. “To be recognized by your peers is an honor and it sort of says to the rest of the group: ‘Yes, they’re here. They’re real. They are doing very serious journalism.’” 

What is really interesting in all of this is how each side – traditional print and online media – have taken tools from eachother’s toolboxes to edge out their competition.  Part of the concern over the years was that new media would put an end to investigative journalism, which was always newspapers’ advantage.  What we’ve seen is just the opposite, as proven by ProPublica’s mission to do the kind of investigative journalism projects many newspapers have found too expensive.

On the flip side, the Pulitzer board also recognized several newspapers like the Seattle Times for employing social networks and online content like Twitter to enhance their stories.  So it seems the media and communications world has already settled the debate – both forms of communication are valid and important.

Recognition of the calibre of the Pulitzer, with it’s esteemed reputation, will hopefully put the argument to rest for the general news consumer and do for new media  journalism what years of industry recognition and debate have not – establish its reputation as a legit source of news.

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