Be a Pulitzer Judge

To which finalist would you give the Breaking News prize?

On Monday, the Pulitzer Prize Board handed out awards in 13 out of 14 categories for journalism. No award was given, for the first time in Pulitzer history, in the Breaking News Reporting category.

The non-awarding of this award led the Associated Press’s report on the Pulitzers (headline: “No breaking news Pulitzer in year of disasters”):

The earthquake in Haiti and Gulf oil spill were among the most intensely covered stories of 2010, but none of that coverage was deemed worthy of a Pulitzer Prize for reporting.

More from the AP:

The breaking news award is given for stories in your own backyard, not somewhere else in the world, and it recognizes “speed and accuracy of initial coverage,” said Sig Gissler, the administrator of the prizes.

But this time, none of the three finalists impressed a majority of the panel. “No entry received the necessary majority,” Gissler said, without elaborating.

Poynter’s Al Tompkins has some additional background.

Here are the three Breaking News finalists recommended to the Pulitzer Board by the jury:

Staff of Chicago Tribune for its coverage of the deaths of two Chicago firefighters who were killed while searching for squatters in an abandoned burning building. (See PDFs of their breaking coverage here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, a joint staff entry, for their coverage of a devastating earthquake in Haiti, often working under extreme conditions. (See here, scroll down to “Earhquake: Remembering a dark day” and, here.)

Staff of The Tennessean, Nashville, for its coverage of the most devastating flood in Middle Tennessee history.

Here, according to the Pulitzer web site, is what the judges officially look for in a winner:

a distinguished example of local reporting of breaking news, with special emphasis on the speed and accuracy of the initial coverage, using any available journalistic tool, including text reporting, videos, databases, multimedia or interactive presentations or any combination of those formats, in print or online or both.

Time to play Pulitzer judge: which of these finalists has your vote? And why?

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The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review. Tags: , , , , ,