The board of the 94-year-old Pulitzer Prize has announced several changes to the 2011 journalism contest rules. According to the official press release, "The rules for 12 of the 14 categories now state explicitly that entries may use any available journalistic tool, including text reporting, videos, databases, multimedia or interactive presentations or any combination of those formats." The two categories whose rules did not change were the Breaking News and Feature photography contests, which still require still images.
The contest's expansion of its journalistic formats is a clear indication that the Board recognizes the adapting nature of journalism from a solely ink-on-paper profession to a multimedia field.
Rule-changing is nothing new to the prestigious contest. The press release reads, "As newspapers and other eligible news organizations increasingly use other methods to tell stories and reach readers, the Pulitzer Board has several times revised the rules so the contest evolves with the profession." This statement refers to Pulitzer's acceptance of online-only publications beginning in 2008. While the coveted award has traditionally been given to print newspapers, ProPublica, an online news team, received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting, indicative of the Board's increasingly open-minded view of the format of journalism.
Interestingly, to maintain a fair judging system, "jurors will be asked to bring their laptops to the judging in March so they can more easily view multimedia and visual elements as they were seen originally by readers."
Another change to the contest is that applicants for the two still photography categories must submit their photographs electronically. By doing so, competitors will be more inclined to enter the contest because they will not have to have pay for costly printing. The assumed effect from this change, an increase in submissions, will theoretically improve the quality of the contest, and because less wealthy news organizations can enter their photos electronically for free, the competition will become more fair and equal. Additionally, this new requirement makes sense due to the fact that photos are more often published digitally on websites rather than in print, meaning that the competition will judge photos in a more accurate context.