Real news

At a time when professional journalists are often unfairly tarred with the brush of “fake news”, the Pulitzer Prizes remind us of their true worth.

By James Evelegh

Real news
Photograph: The Climate Change Project on Unsplash

The Pulitzer Prizes, which recognise the best of American newspaper journalism, were announced this week in an online ceremony. Looking down the list of winners, I was struck by the judges’ comments which vividly painted a picture of phenomenal work, often in the face of powerful vested interests.

The Louisville Courier-Journal was praised for its “its rapid coverage of hundreds of last-minute pardons by Kentucky’s governor, showing how the process was marked by opacity, racial disparities and violations of legal norms.”

Brian Rosenthal of the New York Times, “for an exposé of New York City’s taxi industry that showed how lenders profited from predatory loans that shattered the lives of vulnerable drivers, reporting that ultimately led to state and federal investigations and sweeping reforms.”

The Washington Post, “for a ground-breaking series that showed with scientific clarity the dire effects of extreme temperatures on the planet.”

The Baltimore Sun, “for illuminating, impactful reporting on a lucrative, undisclosed financial relationship between the city’s mayor and the public hospital system she helped to oversee.”

The Seattle Times, “for ground-breaking stories that exposed design flaws in the Boeing 737 MAX that led to two deadly crashes and revealed failures in government oversight.”

The New York Times, “for a set of enthralling stories, reported at great risk, exposing the predations of Vladimir Putin’s regime.”

Jeffery Gerritt of the Palestine Herald Press, “for editorials that exposed how pre-trial inmates died horrific deaths in a small Texas county jail — reflecting a rising trend across the state — and courageously took on the local sheriff and judicial establishment, which tried to cover up these needless tragedies.”

This represents sterling work and the judges’ comments perfectly encapsulate what it should mean to be a news journalist.

Needless to say, British newspapers produce incredible and uplifting work too – in fact, Jon Slattery writes about it in the current issue of InPublishing magazine. Inspirational stuff.