Pulitzer's Gold: Behind the Prize for Public Service Journalism

Pulitzer's Gold: Behind the Prize for Public Service Journalism

by Roy J. Harris
     
 

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No journalism awards are awaited with as much anticipation as the Pulitzer Prizes. Andamong those Pulitzers, none is more revered than the Joseph Pulitzer Gold Medal.   Pulitzer’s Gold is the first book to trace the ninety-year history of the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, awarded annually to a newspaper rather than to individuals, in the

Overview

No journalism awards are awaited with as much anticipation as the Pulitzer Prizes. Andamong those Pulitzers, none is more revered than the Joseph Pulitzer Gold Medal.   Pulitzer’s Gold is the first book to trace the ninety-year history of the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, awarded annually to a newspaper rather than to individuals, in the form of that Gold Medal. Exploring this service-journalism legacy, Roy Harris recalls dozens of “stories behind the stories,” often allowing the journalists involved to share their own accounts. Harris takes his Gold Medal saga through two world wars, the Great Depression, the civil rights struggle, and the Vietnam era before bringing public-service journalism into a twenty-first century that includes 9/11, a Catholic Church scandal, and corporate exposés. Pulitzer’s Gold offers a new way of looking at journalism history and practice and a new lens through which to view America’s own story.

Editorial Reviews

Philadelphia Inquirer
Pulitzer's Gold by Roy J. Harris Jr. is both antidote and anthem. This well-researched and engrossingly presented study chronicles time-bound cases of award-winning journalism with timeless lessons for news people and citizens who care about reportage with reverberation. Harris, a veteran editor and reporter, relates stories behind the stories that won the Gold Medal for public service in the annual Pulitzer Prize competition . . . . By interviewing journalists participating in Gold Medal performances, Harris takes a reader inside the newsroom. He provides detailed accounts of the Washington Post for its revelations about Watergate, the Boston Globe for its reporting on the scandal involving Catholic clergy, and the New York Times for its comprehensive handling of post-September 11 America. Recent cases tend to receive more extensive treatment, but the author also mines the Pulitzer archives and historical accounts for background illuminating earlier winners.

Choice
On time Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee called it the Big Casino, "the cream of the cream." New Orleans Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss called it simply "the Pulitzer." Both these top journalists were referring to the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the most prestigious of the Pulitzers and the subject of his book. [In Pulitzer's Gold] Harris looks at the background, intrique, turns and twists, rivalry, and unapologetic joys surround the gold medal. Few people, even those on the staffs of awarding winning newspapers, know much about the publications honored with the public service prize, and Harris's intent is to offer evidence--through research and critical assessment--that newspapers are indeed public servants. He succeeds very well. The treatment is not chronological. Harris begins with coverage of Hurricane Katrina and moves through sexual abuse by Priests, wrongdoing by the Los Angeles city government, exposure of secret land deals in eastern Long Island, investigation of Synanon, and neglect and abuse of children with mental retardation. With this volume, Harris adds significantly to the legacy of Joseph Pulitzer. A companion to John Hohenberg's The Pulitzer Diaries: Inside America's Greatest Prize, the book includes abundant photographs, comprehensive lists of all the Pulitzer Prizes, and an excellent bibliography. Summing up: "Essential. All readers, all levels. --S. W. Whte, Montgomery County Community College
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Harris' book lays out the case for excellence in public service by all journalists, who Joseph Pulitzer believed were integral to a well-functioning democracy. The contrast with the short-sighted, self-absorbed blather that trashes newspapers, which are uniquely suited to pursuing long-term, in-depth investigative reporting, is quite stark. In short, democracy needs reporters and editors who can take a long, hard look at our common issues, unaffected by ratings, rumors, bling and profits. That's the challenge for publishers and senior editors that Harris raises in his excellent book.

From the Publisher

“A gold mine of inspiration for both journalists and non-journalists….Pulitzer's Gold offers marvelous storytelling, real-life adventures, and absolute proof that journalism can change our world for the better.”—Jeffrey Zaslow, co-author, The Last Lecture, and Wall Street Journal columnist

“This well-researched and engrossingly presented study chronicles time-bound cases of award-winning journalism and timeless lessons for news people and citizens who care about reportage with reverberation. Pulitzer’s Gold is first-rate journalism history.”—Philadelphia Inquirer

“It is a must read for those who want an inside look at journalism at its best. There is no higher calling among American newspapers than public service journalism, and Roy Harris delves into it with flair and expertise.”
Gene Roberts, cowinner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for History

“[A] fine contribution to both scholarship and instruction, a book that can be read for fun, consulted for research, and assigned for class.”—Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

“It is loaded with the Aha! moments that make us, as journalists, glad we passed up the big-bucks MBA track to try to save the world instead.”—Nieman Reports

“At a time when the business model of the American newspaper lies broken, this book tells us, by vivid examples, why newspapers are essential to our national well-being. It is a sobering yet inspiring message.”
John S. Carroll, former Los Angeles Times editor and 1993-2002 Pulitzer Prize Board member

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780826266118
Publisher:
University of Missouri Press
Publication date:
01/01/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
488
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Roy J. Harris Jr. served from 1971 to 1994 as a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, including six years as deputy chief of its fourteen-member Los Angeles bureau. He then spent thirteen years as senior editor of The Economist Group’s CFO magazine. Early in his career he reported at the Los Angeles Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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