Monday, April 7, 2008

2008 Pulitzer Prizes for Journalism

I love it whenever the Pulitzer prizes for journalism is announced. This year, Washington Post leads the journalism honors, winning six awards, including in the category for International Reporting. New York Times won two awards, one of them for investigative journalism. And though the New York Times is my favorite newspaper (we all know why), I am so happy that the Chicago Tribune also received the same award, sharing it in the category of investigative journalism, for a series of articles exposing faulty governmental regulations of children's products. I absolutely adore the Chicago Tribune, for no rational reason other than that it was the newspaper that first sparked my interest in journalism. I was thirteen and living in Illinois, and I started to realize that there might be more to current events other than mandatory newspaper clippings for Social Studies.

Anyway, I do remember the series of articles written by Walt Bogdanich and Jake Hooker of the New York Times about medical supplies from China having counterfeit ingredients, resulting in a global poisoning. I did not follow it religiously (if you click on the Times Topics, you will see that the two have written extensively on this topic) but I do remember their articles reading like an episode of "House, M.D." That, to me, is how journalism should be: taking a subject that would be otherwise dense and boring, and turning it into a dramatic, tension-driven story. And really, isn't that how things often are? A lot of times, we dismiss the idea of reading topics like economics (rise and fall of the Czech krown, for example) or medicine (in this case, diethylene glycol) because we think that it is either over our heads or just plain boring. But once the facts are presented in a compelling manner that is, at the same time, explanatory, we learn and enjoy reading about them.

Another worthy mention is Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post who won the Pulitzer for feature writing. I remember this article making its rounds in Facebook and in forwarded emails. To be honest, I had originally thought that it might be a trite read (please look at the title)– plus, I hated the format of the Washington Post website. But once I started reading it, I absolutely could not stop. Weingarten splices a single event– which is violinist virtuoso Joshua Bell playing in the main metro station of Washington D.C. for passerbys, a la subway-performer– with anecdotes and facts that basically explore how the majority of people aren't able to recognize genius when it is in their presence. In fact, according to the experiment performed by Bell, they mostly ignore him. This article could have just been point-blank, what-I-just-said, and therefore rather superficial. However, Weingarten kept adding layers and layers of perspective to that single event, even going so far to quote Kant– which for me, personally, could have worked as either a hit or a miss. As a philosophy student, I loved it; as a journalism major, I thought it was a little hoity-toity. Anyway, I read through that article very quickly, and it just all flowed together so easily. By the end of it, I marveled at how Weingarten was able to write so extensively about a single event, and yet make it so thought-provoking.

And finally, one of my personal favorite categories is the winning photo for breaking news. Pictured above, this image was taken by Adrees Latif of Reuters. It is of a Japanese videographer wounded during a street demonstration in Myanmar, and it so perfectly captures the adrenaline. There is just so much motion in this photo. I also wonder, since no one is looking at the photographer, where Latif is in regards to the demonstrations and the chaos.

If you want to look at the previous winners of the Pulitzer, you can go to this site and click on whatever year you wish to see.