Media Nation joins Jon Keller and Adam Reilly in congratulating the Boston Globe for its two (according to Editor & Publisher) Pulitzer Prize nominations. The Globe has reportedly been nominated in Local Reporting for its “Debtor’s Hell” series, on unscrupulous bill collectors, and in National Reporting, for its stories on President Bush’s promiscuous use of presidential signing statements to negate the will of Congress.
Each is an example of public-service journalism at its best, and it’s a demonstration that — for all the angst that has enveloped the newspaper business over rapacious ownership and declining circulation and advertising revenues — large metropolitan dailies like the Globe, as well as national papers like the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, remain the places where most important journalism gets done.
The “Debtor’s Hell” series was headed up by Walter Robinson, who is now a colleague at Northeastern. The signing-statement story was reported by Charlie Savage.
“Debtor’s Hell” is also a fine example of how the smart use of technology can enhance a story that, no matter how good, would have ended up as day-old fish wrap just a few years ago. The electronic version goes way beyond “shovelware” — that is, print content thrown online with little regard for the Web’s strengths and weaknesses.
The main page offers podcasts, offsite resources and the all-important tip line for follow-ups. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find a message board, audio Q&As, interactive graphics like this, the transcript of an online chat with Robinson and source documents, such as this, filed by Peter Damon, in which he informed bill collectors that he was in the hospital being treated for the loss of both arms in Iraq.
My guess is that the Pulitzer judges will only be looking at the clips. Someday, though, when the winning team is honored, it ought to include the Web producers alongside the reporters, photographers and editors.
The Pulitzer winners will be announced on April 16.