Journalists on my Twitter feed are already buzzing about the announcement of this year’s Pulitzer Prize awards. This year’s crop actually represents a fair mirror for our failed institutions.
Sara Ganim and the Harrisburg Patriot-News won in the local reporting category for their stories on Jerry Sandusky and the sex abuse scandal at Penn State. Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley of the Associated Press won in Investigative Reporting for their continued coverage of the NYPD spying on the Muslim-American community in New York. David Kocieniewski of the New York Times won for his consistent coverage of how corporations and the wealthy evaded taxes by exploiting loopholes. The Huffington Post won what I believe is their first-ever Pulitzer (I could be wrong… confirmed), with David S. Wood winning for National Reporting on the physical and emotional toll to American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. And absolutely nobody won for Editorial Writing, in itself a commentary on a decade of wankerism.
I think the common thread here is the failure of institutions. Whether it’s the depravity at the heart of a lauded football program at a major university, the trashing of civil liberties by a respected police department, the consequences of unnecessary imperial adventures abroad, a government of, by and for the 1%, or the decay of the modern media (I would add the win for HuffPo and Eli Sanders winning for his work in the Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger to this), what the Pulitzers are reflecting is the grasping state of late empire, with all its flaws exposed for the world to see. The best work of the country comes from exposing the worst of the country. And that target becomes easier and easier to hit with each passing year.