The business news Pulitzer that no one noticed
In the past 24-plus hours there has been a lot of hand wringing about the lack of a Pulitzer Prize in business journalism this year. For example, on Monday, shortly after the Pulitzers were announced, Columbia Journalism Review writer Ryan Chittum tweeted the following: “Business journalism shut out of Pulitzers–again. I’d say that’s a statement.”
Hogwash, replies Larry Ingrassia, the business editor of the New York Times. The Pulitzers did recognize a business news story in the national reporting category, he notes.
In an e-mail Tuesday afternoon to Talking Biz News, Ingrassia writes, “There was a business story that won a Pulitzer. Matt Richtel of the New York Times business news staff won in the National Reporting category for his coverage of how texting and talking on cell phones while driving poses serious safety risks.
“Among the stories in the series were one (headlined “Promoting the Car Phone, Despite Risks”) that showed how phone companies long have promoted the use of cell phones in cars, and even ignored academic research and lobbied against legislation that would limit the use of cell phones in cars; another (“At 60 M.P.H., Office Work Is High Risk”) that examined how workers at many companies – especially but not only trucking companies (“Truckers Insist on Keeping Computers in the Cab”) – often felt pressured to use cell phones and other computer technology while driving in order to be more efficient; another that showed auto makers were adding even more technology to the dashboard, despite concerns about the risks (“Despite Risks, Internet Creeps Onto Dashboard”).
“Sometimes when people think of business stories they think about finance only. If you don’t view this as a business story, then I think you are defining way too narrowly what constitutes a business story. These stories put a spotlight on how big companies do business, in ways that have profound effects of people who use and misuse their products.”
For the record, that makes the third year in a row that a business news desk staffer has been recognized by the Pulitzer board. Last year, it was Alexandra Berzon of the Las Vegas Sun and her expose of unsafe working conditions on the Strip’s construction projects. In 2008, it was Washington Post business columnist Steve Pearlstein.
DISCLOSURE: Talking Biz News posted on Monday about the finalists that were from business journalism, but ignored the Richtel win. Our apologies.