Friday, March 10, 2006

Prizing the Pulitzer

The Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel have both fared very well in the Pulitzer contest, if the early scuttlebutt is to be believed (and it almost always is).

According to E & P, the Miami Herald was named a finalist in the explanatory reporting category for its series, anchored by Debbie Cenziper, on breakdowns in the hurricane warning system (which also just won a National Headliner's Award).

And the Sentinel was named a finalist in an impressive three categories -- breaking news for Wilma coverage, investigative reporting for its FEMA reports, and feature photography for a Holocaust survivor thing (if someone can please send me info on this, I'll post a link).

The news prompted South Florida Business Journal reporter Susan Stabley to cajole the Pulp:

"Hey, let's give props where props are due. The local rags are all right, at least if the leaked information about the Pulitzers is true. ... Say Bob, ain't that worth a blog...and an happy fuzzy, furry puppies one at that?"

Okay, Susan, here's your wish. And I think it's also worth mentioning that the Sentinel was a finalist last year for hurricane coverage as well in the breaking news category, a prize driven by pity that usually goes to whatever place was unlucky enough to have the most horrible disaster you can imagine (the Times Picayune in New Orleans is a lock to win the thing this year, by the way). In fact, every single writing nomination for both the Herald and the Sentinel is hurricane-related. Just keep your fingers crossed that we get a direct hit from a Cat 5 this season so the Sentinel can finally win that ever-elusive Pulitzer.

Yes I'm complaining. The Sentinel's Wilma coverage was undoubtedly excellent. It made Fort Lauderdale proud. But I kept wishing the newspaper would show that same greatness in covering its everyday beats. There is huge corruption in Broward County that goes ignored while the newspaper trains its best reporters on a federal government bureaucracy. Why? Because going after local corruption takes more courage and is far more unpopular than beating up on a flabby faraway agency. Digging into local corruption is basically shitting where you eat and it would hurt the Sentinel's oh-so-cozy relationship with the fine folks at the Broward Alliance and their political sources.

I'm not saying the Sentinel shouldn't have gone after FEMA. Reporter Sally Kestin, Megan O'Matz, Jon Burstein, and John Maines did great great work and deserve every award they get (and I think the conditions are right for them to win the Pulitzer). And God knows the Herald's "Blind Eye" series was worthy -- it dug damn deep in a way only a big newspaper can and it found journalistic gold (though, ironically, the forecasts were AMAZINGLY ACCURATE throughout the season, especially for Wilma).

But it would be nice to see more of that same spirit when it comes to covering, say, Tamarac city hall. Or the Broward County Commission. You might get a black eye, but it's just as important as a hurricane.

(More Later)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless Mike Stocker took pictures of Holocaust victims during Hurricane Wilma, not every one of the Sentinel's Pulitzer finalists are hurricane-related...

4:48 PM  
Blogger Florida Pulp said...

That's why I said "writing nomination" in the original post. Glad you got Stocker's name in here. Where's the link to his photos?

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's in a pretty powerful Flash presentation right here

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Joachim said...

i hope this time the prize went to the right hands

10:33 AM  

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