Three-Headed Baby Wins Pulitzer? National Enquirer Now In The Running For Journalism's Most Coveted Prize

The Pulitzer Prize gold medal award.
Image via Wikipedia

Cat among the pigeons!

The National Enquirer is now in the running for a Pulitzer Prize, for its coverage of the John Edwards scandal.

HuffPo’s Emily Miller broke the story:

The Enquirer is in the running for the Pulitzer in two categories: “Investigative Reporting” and “National News Reporting” for The National Enquirer staff.

“We’re excited to be officially part of the Pulitzer competition,” The Enquirer‘s Executive Editor Barry Levine told me when contacted for his reaction to the decision. “We know we’ll be judged against other very outstanding submissions, but our work on Edwards is truly worthy of the Prize.”…

The decision by the Pulitzer Board gives The Enquirer legitimacy, which is long overdue for its work uncovering political scandals — including Gary Hart’s affair and Jesse Jackson’s love child — the old-fashioned way, by investing the time and manpower into a long-term investigation. The media establishment is also showing that it recognizes that the landscape has changed, so small or non-traditional outlets are breaking important stories.

It’s an interesting time in the media as investigative work is one of the easiest to cut: it takes a lot of time, months, sometimes years; costs money (all that “lost” labor, travel, FOIAs) and produces nothing — until it does. Sometimes it doesn’t pan out at all. Traditionally, I-journalists have also been some of the most skilled, savvy, dogged veterans — the expensive kind who have been canned and bought out by the thousands in the past  two years by every newsroom in the nation. Ooops.

Here’s hoping this sends a message to every assigning editor out there, in whatever medium fits the bill. Dig deep! Dig often!

It also reminds readers — and editors — of the classic value of sleazy politicians to keep journo’s busy on P-worthy material. Hello, Watergate?

7 thoughts on “Three-Headed Baby Wins Pulitzer? National Enquirer Now In The Running For Journalism's Most Coveted Prize

  1. markbolton

    The National Enquirer nomnated for a Pulitzer?!? Abba inducted into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame?!? Nuclear power coming back into the mainstream as a “clean” alternative?!? I think maybe the “end of days” people are on to something! We are doomed!

  2. megflynn

    My conflict. I’m thrilled that serious and successful investigative-style journalism is still recognized by the journalism community. But I’m disappointed that gossip and scandal was the topic instead of something more important. Was there no other example of excellent investigative reporting for the Pulitzer to consider? Or is this an effort to make a prestigious but academic award more mainstream? That would be too bad – there’s no need for a further dumbing down of this country’s expectations for news.

    1. inmyhumbleopinion

      I don’t agree that this topic was unimportant. Edwards potentially jeopardized a Democratic win of the White House–what would have happened if he had won the nomination over Obama and Clinton and THEN the story broke before the election? You may take issue with the messenger and their methods, but this wasn’t just a scandal. It was a serious political ace in the hole for the Republican party.

  3. Caitlin Kelly

    meg, I am sure there will be many stories competing with the Enquirer in these categories. I’m not sure I see a destruction of the temple, as it were, but a wider opening of the doors. I’m of mixed feelings — I want to see a lot more, and more serious investigative work (like the NYT recent stuff on people treated with radiation therapy that killed them) — but want to see the category remain important.

    Is this a bone-toss to the mainstream? I doubt it.

    imho, this point proves why investigative work — slow, methodical, unsexy (until or unless you come back with the goods) — is important. It totally flies in the face of where media are headed: 140 character tweets, etc. Much of the stuff we need to know is NOT handed out to reporters, in any medium, by fax or email or Twitter. It takes digging and it takes an editor, or several, who say “Go for it. Don’t stop ’til you’ve got something.”

    That sort of patience — and extended time-line — looks increasingly quixotic (and “unproductive”) when all your competitors are banging out blog posts by the fistful. Everyone has to hang tough.

  4. Steve Weinberg

    In-depth, accurate reporting ought to receive serious attention from contest judges, no matter what the outlet for that reporting. The Edwards expose certainly is not the most important investigative story of 2009. But, assuming the National Enquirer offered factual and contextual accuracy throughout its coverage, consideration for “mainstream” awards does not weaken the foundation of journalism.

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