Seven takeaways from this year’s Pulitzer Prize presentation
A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
“The greatest prize is serving our readers every single day,” Washington Post editor Marty Baron told his newsroom on Monday.
Baron’s point is important and well-taken. But his reporters and editors had gathered to celebrate a more specific prize, the Pulitzers, which were presented on Monday afternoon.
Here are seven takeaways about the Pulitzer board’s selections:
1: The judges recognized outstanding reporting about mass shootings in three different categories. “The South Florida Sun Sentinel claimed the Pulitzer for Public Service for its reporting on the ‘failings by school and law enforcement officials before and after’ the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” CNN’s Tom Kludt wrote, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette won the breaking news prize for its coverage of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre.
The board also gave a special citation to the Capital Gazette to honor its “courageous response to the largest killing of journalists in U.S. history in their newsroom on June 28, 2018.”
2: The Wall Street Journal newsroom — which sometimes seems to get the Pulitzer board’s cold shoulder — picked up its first win in four years. The paper beat out the Associated Press and The New York Times in the national reporting category “for uncovering President Trump’s secret payoffs to two women during his campaign who claimed to have had affairs with him.”
Addressing the newsroom, editor in chief Matt Murray said “it’s a classic Wall Street Journal piece of journalism. It’s a follow-the-money story. That’s how it started.” This picture by Stephanie Aaronson captured the reporting and editing team’s joy.
3: The investigative reporting prize presented to the Los Angeles Times was also quite meaningful, given that the paper is “undergoing an unprecedented period of rebuilding,” as Times reporter Meg James put it in her story.
One of the winning reporters, Harriet Ryan, told the newsroom: “The L.A. Times is going to win many awards over the next 100 years — Pulitzers and everything else. I don’t know if any award will ever be as sweet as this one. There are so many people in this building who know that we almost died. There are so many of my colleagues in the newsroom who fought to save the paper.”
4: Two reporters who remain behind bars in Myanmar, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were recognized when the prize for international reporting went to Reuters.
5: New York Times reporter David Barstow “won his fourth Pulitzer, tying him with Washington Post and former Miami Herald photographer Carol Guzy as the only journalists to win four Pulitzers,” Poynter’s Tom Jones noted.
6: Aretha Franklin became “the first individual woman to receive a special citation prize, which was first awarded in 1930,” CNN’s Sandra Gonzalez wrote.
7: And on a personal note, I’m overjoyed for Carlos Lozada of The Washington Post, who earned the criticism prize for what the judges called “trenchant and searching reviews and essays.” As WaPo’s Paul Farhi wrote here, Lozada “often reviews multiple nonfiction books about a common subject, bucking the traditional one-book-per-review format. The approach enabled him to assess broader themes. Many of his reviews last year addressed the flood of newly published Trump books.”
FOR THE RECORD
— William D. Cohan’s latest: Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management “is building a local TV empire to rival Sinclair and Fox…” (VF)
— The ratings for Tiger Woods’ big Masters win were impressive, but were hurt by the early start time… (CNN)
— By Richard Deitsch: “Inside the CBS truck as Tiger Woods made his move…” (The Athletic)
Poynter consulting with Newsweek
Newsweek mag is doing something interesting: It is retaining the Poynter Institute “in a consultative role to review and support newsroom standards, ethics and processes.” The deal will be announced on Tuesday. Poynter senior vice president Kelly McBride will be an “editorial advisor” to Newsweek global editor in chief Nancy Cooper “to ensure that the newsroom is educated in best practices and to provide Poynter resources accordingly.”
Per the press release, “this initiative with Newsweek will represent the first formalized ethics consulting project” since the Institute launched the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership at Poynter in February. Poynter plans to do more of this…
Netflix earnings coming Tuesday
“It’s the moment of truth for Netflix” a CNBC headline blared on Monday evening. The company’s earnings will come out Tuesday after the closing bell.
“Shares of Netflix headed lower Friday and again Monday, on worries about competition from Disney,” one of CNBC’s stories noted…
Disney tightens its grip on Hulu
Hulu was born in 2007 as a joint venture among network owners. But the partnership has been unwinding for a while now… And Disney is consolidating control. “The company became the majority stakeholder in the streaming video service after it closed a deal for most of Fox’s assets last month,” CNN’s Frank Pallotta wrote Monday, after AT&T said it is selling its 9.5% stake back to Hulu. Now Comcast “is the only other owner with roughly 30%.”
As Pallotta wrote, it’s “a sign of how the streaming wars have evolved in the last few years…”
By the ‘s
NYT’s Edmund Lee tweeted out the math: “Time Warner paid $583 million for a 10% stake in 2016. New owner AT&T just sold it to Disney for $1.4 billion at a $15 billion valuation. Hulu’s worth more than doubled in 2+ years. But… Hulu loses $1.5-$2 billion/yr and Disney will have to consolidate those losses now.”
So, $15 billion? “That’s about one-tenth of Netflix’s valuation,” The Information’s Martin Peers wrote. “Netflix has 5.5 times as many subscribers as Hulu, however, suggesting that if Hulu were being valued in line with Netflix, it would be worth nearly twice as much. Many in traditional media would argue Netflix is overvalued, of course, so presumably Hulu and its owners are just being conservative.”
Apple hires a docs chief
“The streaming service AppleTV+ has hired former A+E executive Molly Thompson as the company’s head of documentaries,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Bryn Elise Sandberg wrote. “She brings with her three decades of experience in the field, having founded A&E IndieFilms, the feature film production arm of A+E Networks, and served as head of documentary films for A+E Networks…”
James Murdoch, a Buttigieg supporter
Oliver Darcy emails: James Murdoch maxed out to the Pete Buttigieg campaign, donating $2,800 to the 2020 Democratic contender, according to filings released on Monday. It’s, of course, a noteworthy contribution, given the Murdoch family’s stewardship of Fox News. But, it’s also not terribly surprising. As was documented by NYT’s big investigative piece into the Murdoch’s, James is one of the more moderate members of the Murdoch family, while his brother Lachlan Murdoch is considered further to the right. James and Lachlan battled for control of the Murdoch empire for years, with Lachlan ultimately coming out as the victor…
Trump has a primary challenger
Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld formally entered the race for president on Monday through a statement and an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. Weld told Tapper that it would be a “political tragedy” and he would “fear for the Republic” if the country had six more years of Trump as prez…
TVNewser’s A.J. Katz tweeted: “A Weld-Trump debate would yield outrageous ratings for Fox News.” I agree… Except that the chances of Trump agreeing to debate are exactly 0.
Bernie held a town hall on Fox — here’s what happened
On Monday Bernie Sanders released his taxes AND became “the first Democratic candidate to appear on a 2020 town hall event on Fox News,” the NYT’s Maggie Astor wrote.
So how’d it go with Sanders and the moderators Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum? Other campaigns were surely paying close attention. Here’s one review, by Vox’s Dara Lind: “When speaking directly to audience members or to the TV audience watching at home, Sanders was sincere and open.” But “when speaking to Baier and MacCallum, however — or, in a couple of moments, directly to the Fox News-watcher-in-chief — Sanders was as prickly as you’d expect.” Lind says it was “uncomfortably tense” sometimes, “and that worked great for Sanders. For one thing, the audience was on his side.”
DNC chair criticizes Fox’s senior leadership
Town halls are one thing. But DNC chair Tom Perez is not budging re: this “no Fox primary debate” decision. “I don’t have faith in your leadership at Fox News at the senior levels,” Perez told Bill Hemmer in a remarkable moment on Fox Monday morning.