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Bringing the Pulitzers into the Web Era

Editor & Publisher: Incoming Pulitzer Chair Steiger Wants More Web In Awards. Paul Steiger, the incoming chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, wants the prestigious awards to delve even more in to Web-based journalism, calling it “the biggest priority for us.”

This is just common sense, but how they’ll do it will be interesting because the distinctions among media forms are disappearing as news organizations move toward the Web platform.

The Pulitzer prizes at issue are designed to recognize newspaper journalism. But newspapers are using a variety of media online including video, audio, mashups and more.

Meanwhile, TV networks and local stations are writing text stories and posting them online. Why won’t they — and bloggers and CNET and other Web-only operations — be eligible? Should newspapers be eligible for broadcasting’s top award, the Peabody?

If the Pulitzer board moves the way Steiger is suggesting — still thinking of the Web component as a supporting piece of what appears in print — one thing is certain. Some of the better online news organizations, such as CNET, will certainly create “newspaper” products that circulate, in print, once a week or so. Then they’ll enter the competition, and one of these years might just win.

Someone, somewhere, is going to create an award for the top journalism, period, in whatever form. It’ll ignore these increasingly artificial distinctions.

Two cheers for Steiger, meanwhile, for seeing that the future is approaching, if not already upon us.

Addendum: In the E&P story linked to above, Steiger claims he doesn’t remember if he ever leaked the name of a Pulitzer finalist before the actual announcement. Seems to me that this is the kind of thing a journalist would remember quite well.

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