Pulitzers indicate bright future for journalism

Marjorie Kirk

When journalists dig through corruption, when they explore the worst circumstances humans live in, when they run toward the latest bombing or are hit by gunfire in the wake of conflict they are striving for the enlightenment and freedom of the public.

Sadly the lack of civic education has thrown journalists into a mixed bag of media, some of which are dragging down the whole group.

Two trends that could save the journalism industry and may save our declining democracy are the prevalence of journalism organizations created in non-traditional mediums and exceptional work by our local metro papers.

It’s important to have heavy hitters in any industry, but The New York Times and The Washington Post will never be able to tell local news better than the thousand little guys that cover everything from high school graduations to major tragedies.

This year’s Pulitzer Prize recipients exemplified the importance of these two kinds of journalism organizations.

In 2015 no non-traditional journalism organizations placed for the Pulitzer and the awards were dominated by big names like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. 

In 2016 only two locally focused metro newspapers won Pulitzers, though five were finalists. One award went to ProPublica and The Marshall Project, two non-traditional organizations that covered the mishandling of rape cases by the FBI and local law enforcement.

This year we saw the tides change for the better. Four metro newspapers won the prize and in categories like breaking news reporting, investigative reporting and local reporting, which are dominated by national papers.

In addition two awards went to non-traditional groups ProPublica and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Three metro papers were also finalists this year.

While journalism is constantly competing with trash in the broad marketplace of ideas we call “the media,” I think there’s an end in sight of this messy, post-fact tunnel.

If this year’s Pulitzers were any indication, the public will have a well-balanced representation of local and national interests in their news feed, not biased, albeit nationally circulated, fake news.

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