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Thread: Should The Enquirer be eligible to get a Pullitzer Prize?

  1. #1
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    Default Should The Enquirer be eligible to get a Pullitzer Prize?

    Long article
    Controversy over National Enquirer Pulitzer nomination

    The most famous US tabloid is up for the country's top journalism award, for its coverage of a presidential candidate's extra-marital affair. But would it be a worthy winner?

    It is now more than two and a half years since that September afternoon when Rick Egusquiza picked up the phone.

    The journalist and former bartender at Venice Beach listened as the voice on the other end gave him information that would eventually lead to the downfall of a popular, charismatic former US senator who was running for President.

    Now, Mr Egusquiza and the publication he works for, the National Enquirer, is waiting for another phone call.

    One which will tell them whether they've won the most prestigious award in US journalism, the Pulitzer prize.

    Just the thought of it has left much of the media establishment here gasping for breath.

    "If you worked hard and paid your dues to get into the 'white shoe' media establishment, it's going to seem like an injustice to see the Enquirer get journalism's highest honour," says Jeff Bercovici, the media columnist for DailyFinance.com.

    Not that he thinks it will win.

    'Exclusive after exclusive'

    The Enquirer is up for two Pulitzer Prizes.

    Pulitzer administrator Sig Gissler replied to a BBC e-mail request with a quick, "No interviews until 3pm Monday when we announce awards. Sorry."

    The awards' website says prizes will be given for "material coming from a text-based United States newspaper" that "adheres to the highest journalistic principles."

    Many do not believe the National Enquirer fits that category.

    It may have had several serious journalistic scoops in its lifetime, but much of its coverage involves Hollywood-style tittle-tattle.

    It's a tabloid, practising the worst - many say - of chequebook journalism (paying sources for their stories).

    So it surely bruises the country's media elite that this upstart gutter rag, as they might see it, beat the supposed best of US publications on one of the biggest political scoops of recent years.

    Not only that - they ignored the story while the Enquirer delivered exclusive after exclusive.

    A month after the tip-off, the paper ran its first story about how John Edwards - the former North Carolina senator, the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2004, and candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004 and 2008 - was having an affair.

    No-one else picked up on it.

    "John Edwards said… 'That's tabloid trash don't believe it.' And they believed him over us," Rick Egusquiza remembers.

    Two months later the Enquirer followed up with another exclusive: "John Edwards Love Child Scandal."

    Still no traction in the rest of the media.

    Mr Edwards' ended his presidential bid soon after, but the Enquirer did not let up.

    In July 2008, it reported that he'd visited the mother of that "love child".

    When a month later it published photos of what it said was the politician holding the child, he went on TV to admit the affair.


    Edwards met Rielle Hunter during the campaign, and hired her to film him
    The Enquirer's two Pulitzer Prize nominations are for its reporting of the continuation of the story in 2009.

    In that year it broke the story of how John Edwards had taken a DNA test which proved he was the father of the child.

    It also was the first to disclose that a grand jury was investigating whether funds for Mr Edwards' election campaign in 2008 were improperly used - his mistress was on his campaign payroll.

    Barry Levine, The National Enquirer's executive editor, says the case for their nomination is clear.

    "The man was running for the highest office in the land. He had a wife who was campaigning for him who was battling cancer.

    "He was carrying on an affair behind her back with a former campaign worker who had become pregnant with his child," he says.

    It would be a slam dunk if this was by the New York Times
    Emily Miller, public affairs consultant

    "Our investigation, despite his string of denials, has led to a federal grand jury investigation to determine whether or not he used campaign funds to cover up his affair."

    The stories "that are up for submission for this award were done without chequebook journalism - the sources were not paid," says Mr Levine.

    Still, that may not be enough to satisfy the judges.

    Critics of the nomination argue that both in terms of the story's timing and its impact it does not deserve to win.

    Yet Emily Miller, a public affairs consultant in Washington DC who has been pushing for the Enquirer to be considered, believes the time for the Pulitzer judges to acknowledge different media outlets has arrived.

    "With the layoffs, with the newspapers closing down, where stories have been broken is the smaller outlets, is the local papers, websites and blogs, and the National Enquirer and places like that," she says.

    "It would be a slam dunk if this was by the New York Times."
    I'd doubt the story would deserve to win the Pullitzer on its own merit, but if the Pullitzer is given for the best stories, I don't think it should have to be from the NYT etc to win.

    Nowadays some of the best stories are coming from Blogs etc, rather than newspapers. Arguably the biggest political story in the UK last year came from Guido Fawkes (UK's version of the Drudge Report, again arguably got the biggest story of '98).

  2. #2
    Nihilist Nessus's Avatar
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    "Pulitzer"
    In the future, the Berlin wall will be a mile high, and made of steel. You too will be made to crawl, to lick children's blood from jackboots. There will be no creativity, only productivity. Instead of love there will be fear and distrust, instead of surrender there will be submission. Contact will be replaced with isolation, and joy with shame. Hope will cease to exist as a concept. The Earth will be covered with steel and concrete. There will be an electronic policeman in every head. Your children will be born in chains, live only to serve, and die in anguish and ignorance.
    The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

  3. #3
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Pulitzer. I don't know, who makes up the "judges panel"? Are they part of that white shoe media?

    They scooped the story, did the investigations no one else did. People didn't like Watergate much either, or that just one paper WaPo followed it through to the end.

    Maybe it's the content that bugs people. More like scandal hunting than "real journalism". Or that it's about SEX instead of tax evasion or buying votes, as far as vetting Presidential candidates go.

  4. #4
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    Blurgh to spelling error, should have known it'd just be a single letter given its American

    That was my first impression, that it was just a sex-scandal, too until it reached the point about misappropriation of campaign funds. If they've proof of that then it'd be a much more serious story IMO.

  5. #5
    Just to play Devil's Advocate (though I suspect I agree with you):

    Newspapers like NYT or WSJ or WPost theoretically have thorough fact-checking, especially on potentially controversial stories. This makes them more likely to be believed (and thus have a better chance of making a societal impact), and makes the threshold for publication much higher. The National Enquirer can talk about Oprah's alien baby or Brangelina's upcoming divorce as much as they want, frequently either made up or based on extremely iffy sources. If they happen to break a real story every now and then (albeit without the most thorough fact-checking), I'm not sure they should be rewarded for being right as often as a broken clock.

  6. #6
    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
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    Good thread topic.

    The difference, Wiggin, is that the Enquirer did this one very carefully. They didn't just blab about it. They carefully investigated, waited and even personally confronted Edwards meeting with his mistress before breaking the story.

    The problem is the Pulitzers are the white shoe establishment. They represent the vanguard of an industry that is under enormous financial pressures and competition. Just look at what did win:

    Investigative reporting- NYT for story about post-Katrina hospital, based on rumors that everyone had been hearing about from day one. And Philadelphia Daily News for story about corrupt cops. http://www.pulitzer.org/citation/201...tive-Reporting

    National Reporting- NYT's Matt Richtel's fucking annoying non-stop slew of pieces about cell phones and driving. Literally, he wrote about this over and over for months and got the editors to put it on the front page of the Web site all the time. It was Pulitzer bait, and weak bait at that. But the Pulitzer folks bit right at it, even though it was basically a ten-part series about a very obvious fucking fact: talking on your cellphone while driving is distracting and dangerous. http://www.pulitzer.org/citation/201...onal-Reporting

    Is the Enquirer a quality paper? No. But they did an outstanding job by questioning and investigating a populist politician who (despite his massive hedge fund and trial-lawyer wealth) was adored and never closely examined by the national political media. If the Pulitzer committee wants to see more investigative reporting, they should reward publications for deep investigative reporting, especially if said publication doesn't often do it.

    Not rewarding the National Enquirer basically makes it look like top-tier journalism can only be produced by a clique of the few. Which is actually how many top journalists probably prefer to think about it.
    Last edited by Dreadnaught; 04-13-2010 at 02:59 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    Those stories that did win sound bad, really bad. Except the Philadelphian investigating corrupt cops one - that does sound the best of the lot, better than The Enquirers and all the other winners.

    But the NYT's winners ... if those were the best of the "main" papers, then maybe The Enquirer's story did deserve it.

    Certainly awarding a story on the bleedingly obvious (driving and talking on phones are dangerous) hardly raises the esteem of the Pulitzer Prize in my eyes. It devalues the meaning of it to me more than The Enquirer winning could have. I mean, was 2009's NYT stories the first time any Americans realised that driving while talking on a phone is dangerous? I suspect as said in the OP quote, if the Edwards story had been in the NYT that would have been more likely to win than driving while talking. Hope so.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnaught View Post
    The difference, Wiggin, is that the Enquirer did this one very carefully. They didn't just blab about it. They carefully investigated, waited and even personally confronted Edwards meeting with his mistress before breaking the story.
    I happen to agree in this specific case, but the story does need to be considered in the context of its source. It doesn't really matter if the Enquirer breaks a story (even a well researched one) when they won't be believed. That's why they have the requirement for newspapers with the 'highest standards' and integrity and such. The prizes don't just honor good single articles, but they honor the article in the context in which it was received.

    *shrugs* It's definitely a bit of a clique, and I agree that some of the best stories are coming from nontraditional sources nowadays. One of the best investigations I read in 2008 was a piece in a blog exposing a shady no-bid helicopter contract the Pentagon awarded to a poorly-qualified company for delivering Mi-17s to Iraq. But there are non-traditional news sources, and then there are rags. The Enquirer generally fits into the latter category.

  9. #9
    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
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    You could say the same thing about the many blogs that have broken major national stories -- they had no credibility, but they had an intuition, a penchant for investigation or just plain inside info that they used to break a big story.

    The prizes really are meant to honor reporting, not organizations. That's why organizations like Pro Publica were honored so much in this year's rounds.

  10. #10
    Fair enough. I just feel that the more serious blogs tend to float to the top, and generally have scads of decent stories (along with a few truly exceptional ones). The Enquirer doesn't exactly fit the bill.

    I do agree, though, that the particular job done by this one reporter is worthy of recognition. I just also understand why they were a bit hesitant to 'honor' the Enquirer with such an accolade. Let's face it, the newspaper ends up being honored just as much as the reporter.

  11. #11
    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
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    To me that's all the reason to give it to unexpected publications that push out something outstanding -- it encourages reporters everywhere to try and produce what the Pulitzer committee sees as quality stuff. It makes journalists willing to pursue real leads on big stories, even if their parent publications aren't accustomed to covering that.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Evidently Supermarioman's Avatar
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    I voted yes.
    Dread already said everything I was going to say.
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  13. #13
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    You know whats messed up about Edwards? The little punk is trying to stay in politics.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...can-come-back/

    The former John Edwards aide whose recent tell-all book chronicles the former Democratic presidential candidate's extramarital affair and then fall from grace said Thursday that Mr. Edwards still believes he has a political future.

    "He still has a sense of being bulletproof," former aide Andrew Young told The Washington Times' "America's Morning News" radio show. "He thinks . . . he's going to come back and have something to offer the world."
    People like him and little shits like Spitzer & Foley deserve to be out of politics forever.

    So big time respect for bringing down such a pathetic low life.

  14. #14
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Award the writer/journalist, using same standards, regardless of the organization's reputation (sometimes in spite of it).

    Perhaps people in this forum will acknowledge links to provocative and thorough reports, even if they hate the source.

  15. #15
    De Oppresso Liber CitizenCain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    I do agree, though, that the particular job done by this one reporter is worthy of recognition.
    So instead a bunch of shit about talking on cell phones while driving gets the honor?

    Seems like something of a backwards move to me - as much as the National Enquirer is utter trash I wouldn't be caught dead wiping my ass with... if the best that the mainstream competition has to come up with is three stories about the painfully obvious to everyone, maybe the Enquirer should have won, if for no other reason than to slap mainstream journalism in the face for doing such a shitty, shitty job this year.

    Yeah, the Enquirer is right about as often as a broken clock... but what's it say about the rest of the papers that they got beaten by a broken clock? (And journalists wonder why the industry's in deep financial trouble - I can read a press release without their fucking help.)
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  16. #16
    Drunk as a poet on payday Spawnie's Avatar
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    Seems pretty much like the principle and the fact are awkwardly arranged in this case - any media should have a chance, but a sex scandal? Even one that involves misappropriation of funds and whatnot, its not exactly going to be a highlight of the century.

    On top of that, from what ive seen, the competition is piss-poor. Even a tatty sex-scandal is going to look good against this. I thought this was supposed to be the highest award for journalism? surely there has been more impressive entrants?
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  17. #17
    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
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    It's a sex scandal, but it's also a devastating one. This is a guy who came close to being the Vice President of the United States. I voted for him on the ticket along with 50 million+ people. The press adored him here, but he was actually becoming totally narcissistic and cheating on his cancer-stricken wife. It's ugly, but it's also kinda big.

    But yes, the competition is sort of weak, in the sense that the Pulitzer committee has now taken a very narrow view of what's worthy of reward. Dry, stolid pieces about how driving while talking on the phones are apparently the only thing worthy of notice by the supposed elites of journalistic recognition.

    I know a guy who was a finalist for a Pulitzer last year. Obviously I think he deserved to win, but he had a great comment about not winning, and this is all he's ever said about it: "I didn't win the game, but when I look at this whole thing I sometimes think that's actually a good thing."

  18. #18
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    Blurgh to spelling error, should have known it'd just be a single letter given its American
    IT'S

    Also, no.

  19. #19
    ======== Timbuk2's Avatar
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    Um, it should have a single letter too, while we're on the subject. It being American has nothing to do with it.

    It is pronounced Pew-litzer, not Pull-itzer.

    So a single letter is correct as the preceding vowel is rounded (ew), not flattened (uh) as if preceding a double letter.

    Though there are boundless exceptions to this phonetic rule.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    It was more than "just" a sex scandal, politics is full of those. From family values guys shoe-tapping for gay sex in public bathrooms, to Gingrich stepping out on his cancer-stricken wife; from Ted Kennedy to Bill Clinton to Eliot Spitzer.

    This was about the ego delusions of someone running for the highest office and thinking he'd never get caught, or maybe it didn't matter that he led a double life. He wasn't vetted by white shoe media, or even his own party. It's a bit pathetic that a "rag" was the only way to find out Edwards has some "issues". Maybe they do deserve a prize.

    As journalism goes, we all know how bad it's gotten. Where are the articles analyzing what drives their industry, how they decide to present 'the news', what is newsworthy? Or that the American reader is a voyeur, or how sex and scandals sells, and that's the bottom line. How we hold elected officials to different standards than movie stars, musicians, or even golfers. Or where we draw the line on private lives vs public personas and gauging decision-making skills in our legislative leaders.

    Maybe it will be Twittered. Today's news is all about whether McCain is REALLY a maverick or not.

  21. #21
    Local talking head LittleFuzzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnaught View Post
    It's a sex scandal, but it's also a devastating one. This is a guy who came close to being the Vice President of the United States. I voted for him on the ticket along with 50 million+ people. The press adored him here, but he was actually becoming totally narcissistic and cheating on his cancer-stricken wife. It's ugly, but it's also kinda big."
    Yeah, but that's not what the Pulitzer would have been for. The Pulitzer would have been for their continued reporting on developments. Which is also a fairly weak entry.
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  22. #22
    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
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    I don't follow what you're getting at...

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