Pulitzer Prize Board announces changes for 2011 journalism competition

Media contact:
Sig Gissler, sg138@columbia.edu or 212-854-7327
Clare Oh, clare.oh@columbia.edu or 212-854-5479


New York, NY (Dec. 8, 2010) -- The Pulitzer Prize Board today announced several changes to the journalism contest rules for 2011, spelling out the board’s interest in seeing entries in all the journalistic formats that news organizations use to generate impactful work.

The changes recognize the growing importance of visual storytelling using video and other multimedia formats and the board’s ongoing intention to honor the best journalism from eligible news organizations, regardless of format.

Newspapers and online-only news sites that publish at least weekly are eligible. Magazines and broadcast media, and their respective Web sites, remain ineligible.

In the first change, the rules for 12 of the 14 categories now state explicitly that entries may use any available journalistic tool, including text reporting, videos, databases, multimedia or interactive presentations or any combination of those formats. The rules did not change for the two photography categories, which are restricted to still images.

In the 94 years since the prize was created, text -- and particularly ink-on-newsprint -- was the primary way newspapers delivered information. So the prizes have primarily gone to printed journalistic work.

As newspapers and other eligible news organizations increasingly use other methods to tell stories and reach readers, the Pulitzer Board has several times revised the rules so the contest evolves with the profession. For example, it has opened the doors beyond newspapers to online news organizations and opened all but the photography categories to work in multiple formats.

The change announced today places the emphasis on journalistic excellence across all formats and makes clear that submitting news organizations should enter work as their readers saw it -- if multimedia and visual elements were primary pieces of the work as published, they should be primary pieces of the Pulitzer entries.

Prize administrators also are doing several things to ensure the visual and multimedia work is viewed equally by jurors evaluating entries. For example: Those jurors will be asked to bring their laptops to the judging in March so they can more easily view multimedia and visual elements as they were seen originally by readers.

A second rule was changed to help encourage the broadest possible entries -- the number of individual names on a team entry was increased from three to five. The new language specifically says that the individuals named should be the strongest contributors to the work, “whether they are text reporters, photographers, videographers, graphic artists, producers or journalists who have worked in more than one format.”

If the work involves equal or near-equal contributions of more than five individuals, it should be submitted as an entry in the name of the submitting news organization.

A final change will make it easier for organizations to enter the two still photography categories. The board now requires that photographs be submitted electronically in the Breaking News and Feature photography categories, eliminating the requirement that organizations submit printed photos. Few eligible news organizations print photos on paper today; the images are chosen, edited, shared and often displayed digitally.

Eliminating the need for costly printing makes it easier for news organizations to enter the photo categories and is consistent with the practices of other major photo prizes.

"These changes help ensure that in the multimedia age, the Pulitzer Prizes will continue to recognize the very best journalism in all formats,” said Pulitzer Board Co-Chairs David M. Kennedy and Amanda Bennett.

Kennedy is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University and Bennett is Executive Editor/Enterprise for Bloomberg News.

The deadline for journalism entries is Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011.

# # #

About Columbia University
A leading academic and research university, Columbia continually seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to foster a campus community deeply engaged in understanding and addressing the complex global issues of our time. Columbia's extensive public service initiatives, cultural collaborations, and community partnerships help define the University’s underlying values and mission to educate students to be both leading scholars and informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. For more information, visit www.columbia.edu.