Students indifferent to prestigious Pulitzer prize

(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – Journalists from Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal headed this year’s slate of Pulitzer Prize winners.

The Pulitzer Prize for Public Service was awarded to the Los Angeles Times for its series last year on a severely troubled inner city hospital, while the paper’s foreign correspondent Kim Murphy was given the award for international reporting for her reporting on democratic reform in Russia.

A pair of awards was also given to The Wall Street Journal, with film critic Joe Morgenstern and medical reporter Amy Dockser winning prizes for criticism and beat reporting, respectively.

The awards are granted each April by the president of Columbia University upon the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board, which receives nominations from 102 editors, publishers, writers and educators from across the nation parceled into 20 separate juries. Prizes are given for outstanding efforts in journalism, fiction, nonfiction and music.

The judging panels receive on average about 2,000 nominations every year in 21 different categories, with roughly three quarters of the entries for one of the 14 journalism awards. Though judges are provided a definition for each different award, no specific guidelines are given for what constitutes distinguished work.

Two of the more prominent Pulitzers for journalism were given to a pair of local papers for covering misdeeds by elected state officials. The prize for investigative reporting went to Nigel Jacquiss of the local Portland, Ore., paper The Willamette Week for uncovering sexual misconduct committed by the state’s former governor towards a 14-year-old girl.

In addition, the staff of The Star Ledger of Newark, N.J., won the award for breaking news reporting for its coverage of the resignation of the state’s governor after he revealed having an extramarital gay affair with a former aide. Other journalism awards went to writers from The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Newsday and The Associated Press.

Rounding out the awards for letters and drama were playwright John Patrick Shanley, historians David Hackett Fischer and Steve Coll, poet Ted Kooser and novelist Marilynne Robinson for her book “Gilead.” The prize for music was given to orchestra composer Steven Stucky.

Though the Pulitzer is one of the highest honors for journalism and the arts, students at D.C. schools were largely indifferent to the awards. Several journalism students said they were mostly unfamiliar with the winners and what kinds of works were considered, while others questioned the way the awards were distributed.

“What I’ve been told in some of my journalism classes is (the Pulitzer Prizes) are kind of like the Oscars where it’s more about who knows who and that kind of thing,” said Lauren Weiser, a junior at Georgetown University considering a career in journalism. “I got the impression it’s sort of less reflective of your actual talent in journalism.”

Others said that the prize was not a goal for them personally. Georgetown University sophomore Tim Reid, a double-major in English and History, said that while he respects the Pulitzer he has never aspired to win one himself.

“I’ve never really thought about a situation where my work might be considered for the Pulitzer,” said Reid. “I definitely appreciate the awards and what they’re there for, but I can’t really say they inspire me.”

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