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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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This weekend's column: And none shall have prizes ...

Above: Wear sunscreen. Really.

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And none shall have prizes - George Pyle, The Salt Lake Tribune

I’m too old to get anxious about what might be under the tree on Christmas morning.

But Monday afternoon, in spite of myself, I was all anxious about how Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and a leprechaun with a pot of gold might have something for me.

Monday was when Columbia University was to announce who had won the Pulitzer Prize for work done in the preceding year. And I, a grizzled newspaper hack of more than 30 years standing, still care waaaaay too much about all the awards, citations, trinkets, plaques and trivets that journalists annually bestow on one another.

I was even allowing myself to think I had a chance.

It wasn’t — only — a matter of me being full of myself. It was the fact that my entry in this yearly quest for print (and now online) journalism’s greatest honor just happened to be a big tray of Pulitzer bait.

It was a collection of the editorials The Salt Lake Tribune published in March of last year berating the Utah Legislature for its surprise adoption of HB477, the law that kneecapped the state’s Government Records Access and Management Act. This is the stuff that Pulitzer juries live for.

Besides, the editorials worked. Or, at least, the actions we called for came to pass. We said the law should be repealed, and it was, in very short order.

But, when 1 p.m. Monday rolled around, and I managed to wait a whole four minutes before hitting www.pulitzer.org, I was disappointed. And stunned.

It said, "Editorial writing: No award."

[Continue reading, "And none shall have prizes" ...]

Related:

- Pulitzer Reaction: Has Editorial Writing Become a Lost Art? - Bill Lucey, The Morning Delivery

- Pulitzer joy - JimRominesko.com

- Editorial writing: Does anyone care? - Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

- Don't take me to your leader: the Pulitzer and the lost art of editorials - Dan Gillmor, The Guardian

... Great editorial pages had clout in the old days for two reasons. The first was that newspapers themselves had clout, which has dissipated in recent years. The second was that editorial pages genuinely stood for something. They were used by newspaper publishers to help set and move the public agenda. When they said something had to happen in the state legislature or city council, it often did happen. ...

[The headline is funny if you know that "leader" is Brit for "editorial."]

- Pulitzer: The Leaked Fiction Memos - Avi Steinberg, The New Yorker

... I think we need more time. These things are like a HUNDRED pages long. ...



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