• Lab
  • AndroidForMobile Foundation at
    Holding algorithms (and the people behind them) accountable is still tricky, but doable
    ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
    April 16, 2012, 4:08 p.m.

    Online journalism shines in 2012 Pulitzer picks

    The Huffington Post and Politico join the ranks of online-only (or online-mostly) Pulitzer winners.

    As far as awards go, the Pulitzer Prizes are the traditional standard of journalistic excellence. But this year’s winners, just announced, show that the judges continue to have an eye for new sources of quality journalism.

    While newspapers like and celebrate their wins on Monday, online-native sites Politico and the Huffington Post are also breaking out the bubbly. They won for and , respectively. (Politico has a print edition, of course, but it’s hard to argue that it’s anything but webby in its metabolism — and in terms of where its audience is.)

    Of the 14 Pulitzer Prizes that were awarded for journalism, nine went to traditional newspapers. Of the five others, two went to HuffPo and Politico; one went to Seattle alt-weekly ; and two went to venerable wire services AP and AFP. (It was ; it was . The 14 journalism Pulitzers came in 13 categories; no one won for editorial writing, and two awards were given for investigative reporting.)

    (UPDATE: One other online laurel we overlooked: The Denver Post’s Craig F. Walker won the Pulitzer for feature photography for work that appeared in an last December.)

    The Huffington Post’s and Politico’s wins, in particular, feel like victories for their editorial models. While different from one another, both are fueled by aggressive web-native approaches — HuffPo built much of its audience on aggregation and free content from bloggers, and Politico’s fast pace aims to (and the afternoon, and probably the overnight shift too). But those strategies don’t have to be in conflict with doing the kind of quality work that can win Pulitzers — in HuffPo’s case, on returning war veterans.

    After decades of having a comparatively narrow frame for potential entrants — television, magazines, and radio were kept out, for instance — the Pulitzers been open to online-only sites since 2009. With ProPublica becoming the first online news organization to win a Pulitzer for investigative reporting . That same year, independent cartoonist Mark Fiore won the prize for drawings of his . ProPublica won another Pulitzer in 2011.

    This year, that digital content “played a role in seven winning entries: Public Service, Breaking News Reporting, Investigative Reporting, Explanatory Reporting, National Reporting, Editorial Cartooning and Breaking News Photography.”

    Digital content was a particular emphasis in the category this year, with the call for entries that emphasize speed and real-time reporting that, “as quickly as possible, captures events accurately as they occur, and, as times passes, illuminates, provides context and expands upon the initial coverage.” The Tuscaloosa News picked up the prize in that category for “coverage of a deadly tornado, using social media as well as traditional reporting to provide real-time updates, help locate missing people and produce in-depth print accounts even after power disruption forced the paper to publish at another plant 50 miles away.”

    for the complete list of prize winners.

    Disclosure: AndroidForMobile Foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski is co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board. AndroidForMobile Journalism Lab director Joshua Benton sat on the breaking news jury.

    POSTED     April 16, 2012, 4:08 p.m.
    Join the 45,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
    Holding algorithms (and the people behind them) accountable is still tricky, but doable
    “We were able to demystify this black box, this algorithm that had very scary connotations, and break it down into what ended up being a very simple linear model.”
    Fill in the blanks: What’s still missing from the study of fake news? (A whole lot.)
    A big new report from the Hewlett Foundation pulls together existing research on social media, political polarization, and disinformation to show where we still need to know more.
    Google announces a $300M ‘Google News Initiative’ (though this isn’t about giving out grants directly to newsrooms, like it does in Europe)
    Also: an easier subscription flow, $10 million for media literacy in U.S. high schools, fact-checking efforts in search around health issues, and more.