What the Loebs can learn from the Pulitzers

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Reuters blogger Felix Salmon, a former judge of the Gerald Loeb Awards for business journalism, writes about what the awards can learn from the Pulitzer Prize.

Salmon writes, “The Loebs have awards for large newspapers and for small newspapers, for news services and for magazines — all of them judged according to exactly the same criteria. The result is that some weak stories win Loeb awards because they’re in categories with no strong competition, and others get two or more bites at the cherry, being nominated in multiple categories to maximize their chances.

“The Pulitzers, by contrast, just talk about things like feature writing and international reporting and commentary. Medium is unimportant, which probably goes to explain why outlets like ProPublica and HuffPo and Politico are finding it significantly easier to win Pulitzers than to win Loebs. Meanwhile, the Loebs respond to new media by creating a ‘blogs’ award and then turning around and giving it to the NYT.

“While the Loebs are learning from what the Pulitzers are doing right, they should learn from the Pulitzers’ mistakes, too. This year, the big controversy at the Pulitzers is over the fiction award, or rather the lack thereof. Three jurors read 300 books each over the course of six months before finally whittling the finalists down to three books — a huge effort and achievement. And all of them thought that the finalists were more than worthy of a Pulitzer. Yet for reasons which remain extremely murky, the final jury, after reading all three books, declined to give any of them the award.”

Read more here.