Pulitzer panel divided over breaking news, no prize awarded

por Dana Liebelson
Oct 30, 2018 en Investigative Journalism

For the first time in the history of the Pulitzer Prize, no winner was named in the breaking news category this year.

The award is given for a distinguished example of local reporting of breaking news, with special emphasis on the speed and accuracy of the initial coverage.

The 18 members of the prize board, including executives from The Associated Press, journalists from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal couldn't agree.

“After serious consideration, no entry received the jury majority necessary for a prize,” Sig Gissler, Pulitzer Prize administrator, told IJNet.

Gissler pointed out that there have been 25 other times in the Prize's history where judges have failed to agree on an award-winner, although never before in the breaking news category. Gissler underlined that there were "multiple factors involved, all three finalists were reviewed and discussed, particularly in the context of what the category language seeks to reward – namely, speed and accuracy of the initial coverage and use of available journalistic tools such as online reports and other online material."

Gissler said that the exact mechanism of the voting is secret, but as the Pulitzer website explains: "awards are made by majority vote, but the board is also empowered to vote 'no award,' or by three-fourths vote to select an entry that has not been nominated or to switch nominations among the categories."

This year’s finalists were The Tennessean for coverage of a local flood, The Chicago Tribune, for coverage of two firefighters killed in their line of duty and The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald for joint reporting on the Haitian earthquake.

Who do you think should have won the award?

Photo by sigsegv, used with a CC-license

IJNet English editor Nicole Martinelli contributed reporting.