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Pulitzers to put more emphasis on real-time reporting

Pulitzers to put more emphasis on real-time reporting

2011 was hardly a vintage year for the Pulitzer Breaking News Prize - in fact, for the first time in the 95-year history of the prize, there was no winner. Even though the Pulitzers adapted their rules in 2010 to allow multimedia reporting to be entered for the prize, there were only 37 entries in the Breaking News category. Something clearly had to change.

This year the Pulitzer team have shaken things up, launching a digital-only entry service and altering the criteria for a breaking news award, "stressing real-time reporting of breaking events", according to the Pulitzer website.

Nieman Lab provides the new definition:

"For a distinguished example of local reporting of breaking news that, as quickly as possible, captures events accurately as they occur, and, as times passes, illuminates, provides context and expands upon the initial coverage."

The latest definition clearly places the emphasis on speed in reporting, which clearly points to the use of live blogging and Twitter as real-time reporting tools. The old definition permitted the use of "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".

The lack of specific formats named in the new definition removes any controversy abut whether social media is strictly a 'journalistic tool', meaning that live reporting via Twitter, could possibly be considered as eligible for the Breaking News Pulitzer, seeing as it is often the tool that provides the most rapid and responsive coverage in times of emergency. it seems, even for Pulitzer, real-time is crucial.

It's no surprise that digital tools like social media should be included in the Pulitzer prize, as the organization used to award prizes for Telegraphic Reporting; those days are now long gone, however, in terms of transmitting and distributing information rapidly, there can be little doubt that Twitter is equally as revolutionary as the telegraph. So why not give it the same recognition?

Sources: Knight Center, Nieman Lab, Pulitzer.org,



Katherine Travers


2011-12-06 13:52

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