In his column on Jay Severin in yesterday’s Globe, Scot Lehigh reported that Severin’s claim of having won a Pulitzer Prize was false – that, in fact, Severin had merely been writing for MSNBC.com back in 2000, when the site won an Online Journalism Award. Severin, in trying to explain his hyperbole, told Lehigh that the award was “the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize for Web journalism.”
Which begs the question: Were Severin’s contributions specifically acknowledged in the award that MSNBC.com won? Unfortunately, the Online Journalism Awards have changed sponsors several times, and a Google search led me down a trail of broken links. However, I did find the judges’ comments for the 2000 award in a press release on LexisNexis. Here are those comments:
THE JUDGES: MSNBC.com creates a highly successful blend of online and interactive elements, making innovative use of most every interactive application, such as charts, maps, surveys, and streaming video. The site offers a commendable marriage of original journalism with video resources, and, more broadly, a successful integration of journalism from its partners and alliance members. In this case, bigger surely is better.
Given those criteria, Severin’s reported claim that “I received a Pulitzer Prize for my columns for excellence in online journalism” looks even more ridiculous.
By the way, Severin was not at his post yesterday on the airwaves of WTKK Radio (96.9 FM). His usual custom when attacked is to spend most of his show whipping “The Best and the Brightest” into a frenzy. It would be unfair of me to speculate why he took yesterday off (his absence could easily be explained by contract complications raised by his new syndication deal), but it certainly would have been interesting to hear his response to Lehigh’s column.