Pulitzer Prize – NOT!

18 Apr

Is one of the bulwarks of writing using reverse psychology public relations?

I wouldn’t even have noticed this if it weren’t for the fact that it seems to be happening two years in a row. In these days of e-readers and scannable headlines taking attention away from traditional print media, the Pulitzer board (you know, the ones responsible for that prize) did not see fit yet again to issue an award in a major category.

Where's My Prize? Joseph Pulitzer Ponders.

Where’s My Prize? Joseph Pulitzer Ponders. Click for original photo by Pete Toscano*

Last year it was Breaking News (the category) with no prize, which resulted in several snarky tweets, including my own, pointing out the “breaking news” of there being no actual breaking news worthy of an award.

This year, despite having selected three works as potential winners, the board awarded no prize in the Fiction category. This has upset some publishers, but on the other hand has resulted in news coverage about guess what: the Pulitzer Prize.

No Prize = More Coverage?

Not only that, but the works nominated in the Fiction category are now all receiving publicity, rather than the case of simply one title appearing on the list that fewer people might pay attention to.

So how about that? The absence of the award brings attention to even more works. In the short-term, this is a good thing, but I can’t help thinking that it may devalue the overall impact of the prize. Because I’m sure there will be ample hyping of “Pulitzer Prize nominee” more so than in years past for these titles. Also, I agree that it sucks to be nominated when there’s no winner in the category at all. If not for the bonus PR and the glory of being noted in the blogosphere (obviously), it would seem rather anticlimactic.

The board has gotten away with this stunt for two years in a row, but what does that do to the credibility of a prize that’s become a metric across so many fields? In the meantime, here are the nominees – go check them out.

And here are some books I’ve read that, while not winning any Pulitzers, I’ve still found entertaining enough to hold my interest lately.

What do you think? Read any good books lately? Does this anti-tactic actually justify the means for more coverage, or do you think is this even a tactic at all? Let us hear from you in the comments!

*Photo licensed under Creative Commons.

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5 Responses to “Pulitzer Prize – NOT!”

  1. carelemac April 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Great post. Something to think about….It wouldn’t have entered my mind but you may be right.

    • rsmithing April 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

      Thanks, Cally. Glad to know my line of thinking here makes sense. That’s not always the case. 😉

  2. J. R. Whitener April 18, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    I’d be surprised if the committee had the gumption to devalue a set of authors for negative PR.

    • rsmithing April 18, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

      Thanks for commenting, J. R. You’re right – that would take some guts. On the other hand, maybe they’re looking for PR anywhere they can find it?

      • J. R. Whitener April 18, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

        Could be. While the name is well known, the majority of readers aren’t aware or care about it. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but maybe there is a pragmatic desperation. All speculation, of course, I have no data to backup my thoughts.

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