Why I hate the Pulitzers

Posted on | April 12, 2010 | 1 Comment

The most obvious reason is that I don’t have one. But, beyond that, as the names of the winners came down the wires this afternoon, the most deserving writer for beat journalism, or explanatory writing, or public service (take your pick) was not among them. He is Mike Taugher of the Contra Costa Times. I don’t know Taugher, but I could pick out a story by him without the byline. He is the reporter who is invariably at the edge of what can be known about water in northern California. His series on the two richest, most wildly entitled fixers in the state’s water politics opened the door to subsequent profiles of Lynda and Stewart Resnick by the New York Times and, only this weekend, the Associated Press. But Taugher was there first, with a shovel doing the hardest digging. The upshot? Among other things, without Taugher’s reporting in 2009, the Endangered Species Act might be in much worse shape in 2010.

A former colleague at the Los Angeles Times, the late David Shaw, once described how the unholy crush in judging the Pulitzers came down to the physical feel of a package. According to Shaw, there were too many words from too many newspapers on too many subjects in too short a time. The rest was about clout and the vapors of the judges. That is not to say that Shaw didn’t deserve the Pulitzer that he earned in 1991 for his four-part series on McMartin molestation case, or that any work celebrated by the Pulitzer judges was unworthy. It is only to say that Taugher was done wrong in the 2009 awards. Click here for links to some of his work.


One Response to “Why I hate the Pulitzers”

  1. David Zetland
    April 14th, 2010 @ 10:14 am


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