Winning a Pulitzer is a big deal. Winning a Pulitzer that could change the public's perception of an entire news medium is HUGE. ProPublica.org, an independent, non-profit news organization, which aims to produce investigative journalism in the public interest, just won the first Pulitzer awarded for a series that didn't originate in print. Even if you don't work in media, that's kind of earth-shattering news, because until now, most of us have thought "real journalism" was exclusive to serious black-and-white newspapers or thick, glossy magazines filled with dense, tiny text.
And even though most of us tend to get our news from the Internet, original online reporting hasn't really been legitimized. Until now. The Pulitzer committee seems to think ProPublica's online investigative journalism is the real McCoy. Hey, maybe now those three words ('online investigative journalism') can be strung together without someone cracking a joke that the Internet is only good for gossip and porn??
In the debate between online vs. print, I've always thought it's important to note that each medium can accomplish things the other can't. In the case of ProPublica, the news org earned the prestigious award in the National Reporting category for an expose of questionable practices on Wall Street, which occurred prior to the recent financial crash. Pulitzer judges praised reporters Jesse Eisinger (to later be played in a film by Jesse Eisenberg, hmm?) and Jake Bernstein for "using digital tools to help explain the complex subject to lay readers."
Exaaaactly! When crafting their series, "The Wall Street Money Machine," Eisinger and Bernstein must have realized they had the opportunity to interact with readers in a way that print pubs can't. Thus, they delivered the financial world's recent complex, twisted history in an accessible, engaging format. Reminds me of how Inside Job (which won the Oscar for Best Documentary this year) presented similar info in an entertaining way that left many viewers with their hair standing on end.
When we're hungry for the truth, especially about something that hits almost all of us right at home, it's refreshing to see that online pubs are digging deeper and aiming to provide us with hard facts. Now that Pulitzer has validated ProPublica, I have a feeling that online journalism has the green light to step up to the plate and evolve in an exciting way.
Do you think online pubs can offer "real journalism"?
Image via Stefano Brivio/Flickr