State of the Debate

Six Degrees of Pulitzer Prize

First Published      Last Updated Apr 14 2014 04:38 pm

"Welcome to the Academy Awards. Or, as it's known at my house, Passover." — Bob Hope, Oscar host, 1968

Ever since I was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize awaaaay back in 1998, I have cared way too much about who wins The Highest Honor in Journalism.

The 2014 awards were announced today, while my name does not appear anywhere on any of the lists, I've still got some good news.

The Salt Lake Tribune's prized political cartoonist, Pat Bagley, was named as one of the three finalists by the jury that makes the recommendations to the Pulitzer Board, "For his adroit use of images and words that cut to the core of often emotional issues for his readership."

Some of us were worried that Pat would never receive the national recognition he deserves because his cartoons are so absolutely pitch-perfect for Utah that judges who aren't from here wouldn't appreciate them. Guess not.

The winner, selected by that board, was the Charlotte Observer's Kevin Siers. (I met him once, briefly, a long time ago, when I was in Charlotte on a job interview.)

I went to high school with another of this year's finalists, Fred Kaplan. (He doesn't know that. He was a senior when I was a sophomore.) Fred was named a finalist in the general nonfiction category for his book, "The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War." It's a very good book, deserving of the critical raves it got, and of today's honor. And it was certainly not the author's fault that it came out just about the time Petraeus' star exploded when he was caught up in a sex scandal that not only ended the general's career but also made folks lose interest in how successful he had been as an officer. Fred was already a Pulitzer winner, part of a team that won the National Reporting award in 1983 for its in-depth look at the history of the nuclear arms race.

The winners get awards of $10,000 each and lunch at Columbia University in New York City. The finalists get letters, on really nice stationery, from the president of Columbia, basically apologizing for the fact that you didn't win.