New media, hometown reporting nab Pulitzers
NEW YORK — The Bristol Herald Courier, a small paper in the coalfields of Appalachia, beat out journalism's powerhouses to win the Pulitzer Prize for public service yesterday for uncovering a scandal in which Virginia landowners were deprived of millions in natural gas royalties.
The seven-reporter daily was honored for what many regard as an endangered form of journalism in this age of wrenching newspaper cutbacks — aggressive reporting on local issues.
The Washington Post received four Pulitzers — for international reporting on Iraq, feature writing, commentary and criticism.
The New York Times won three — for national reporting, for explanatory reporting, and for investigative reporting for working with the fledgling nonprofit news service ProPublica on a story about the life-and-death decisions made by New Orleans doctors during Hurricane Katrina.
The ProPublica prize — and an editorial cartooning award for the self-syndicated Mark Fiore, whose work appears on the San Francisco Chronicle Web site www.SFGate.com — represented a victory for new media in a competition long dominated by ink-on-newsprint.
ProPublica, a 2-year-old organization based in New York with around 30 employees, is bankrolled by charitable foundations, staffed by distinguished veteran journalists, and devoted to doing the kind of big investigative journalism projects many newspapers have found too expensive. It offers many of its stories to traditional news organizations, free of charge.
The Pulitzers have opened their doors wider in recent years to online-only material. The changes reflect the seismic shifts going on in the industry over the past decade, with readers getting their news online at all hours, in a never-ending news cycle.