Pulitzer Prizes mug America's Heartland--again

Not to whine about it, but if we use today's progressive standard for achievement, America's Midwest and Heartland are being denied their fair share of Pulitzer Prizes that are annually handed out to newspapers for high quality journalism.

I'm not in favor of using the progressive standard that requires that every group is entitled to an equal share of rewards, but it's still an interesting question why newspapers located along the coasts garner far, far more recognitions for quality journalism than their inland counter-parts.

Take a look at the recently announced 2018 Pulitzer Prize winners and you'll find New York (the NY Times) and Washington D.C. (the Post) batting cleanup, along with awardees from Los Angeles, Florida and New Orleans dominating the landscape. A few midlanders creep in from St. Louis and Pittsburgh (even though Pennsylvania is a coastal state) and a precious few more are spotted among the list of finalists.

It has been that way for years. Perhaps the most egregious insult to Inland journalism was when the Chicago Sun-Times exposed the depth of Chicago corruption when it opened an undercover bar called the Mirage Tavern. In a 25-part series, it detailed the shakedowns, payoffs and other hidden costs of doing business in Chicago, but it was denied a Pulitzer because Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post led an attack on the series because it was "deceptive." (Some have argued that the denial was personal because Bradlee didn't like the Sun-Times editor, Jim Hoge.)

One might argue that bias doesn't account for the historic near-shutout of the Heartland because the East, West and Gulf coasts are where the best journalism is conducted. They deserve the Pulitzers and, sorry, Heartland newspapers just aren't so hot. Deplorable, they are.

Or, one might argue that the Pulitzer judges share the same kind of anti-Heartland bias that accounted for Hillary Clinton's presidential loss. Take a look at the Pulitzer board that presides over the awards: New York, New York and more New York. Washington, D.C. Columbia University. Virginia, Boston, Miami. Nary a Midwesterner in sight. One also might argue that geographical bias also generally holds true for the "jurors" who nominate the prize winners.

Also, one could argue that the coastal bias is just another way of viewing the media's liberal bias. You might get that idea if you check out how reporting and writing that reflects the liberal viewpoint dominates the Pulitzer Prizes. Again, are we to assume that journalism reflecting liberal stories, topics and commentary are just better than all other forms?

Having been a Chicago journalist for most of my career, my observations here probably will be considered sour grapes. Disclosure: I have been nominated by my Chicago newspapers three times for a Pulitzer, although getting nominated is no big deal.

No, what bothers me more is having to watch as Chicago and Midwest journalists who do extraordinary work get overlooked by the self-appointed magistrates of the good and beautiful. Chicago once was called the best newspaper town in America, and I still believe that. Not just because so many funny, screwball, weird and important things happened here. Journalists in Chicago always have shown a special talent, whether in investigations or story telling, to rise to the challenge. They still do.

A side note: Here's something that suggests why the Pulitzer dons don't get it. The Pulitzer website wonders, "Why Do So Many Americans Distrust the Media?" Experts are have been called in to provide the clueless answers to questions that are self-evident.

dennis@dennisbyrne.net

www.dennisbyrne.net 

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  • The east and west coast papers should share the Pulitzer Prize -- for fiction.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    OK. Just how many times as Trump lied? Or have you lost count? Or don't you care anymore about the way, the truth, and the life?

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