A well-deserved prize for the Post: It happens every spring.
Yesterday, we granted a favorable review to Farah Stockman's front-page report in the New York Times about reactions to the 1994 crime bill. We even praised Stockman for her skill at kissing ascot.
Sure enough! That very same day, Stockman was awarded a Pulitzer prize. In this morning's New York Times, the award is reported as shown below.
Michael Grynbaum did the report. Can you spot a pattern here?
GRYNBAUM (4/19/16): Two other newspapers besides The Times won two prizes apiece. Farah Stockman of The Boston Globe, who recently joined the Times staff, won the commentary prize for columns examining the legacy of busing and segregation in Boston; Jessica Rinaldi of The Globe won in the feature photography category for her photos of a young boy struggling after a history of abuse.Two newspapers won Pulitzers for work about public school issues.
The Tampa Bay Times won for local reporting for its look at the stunning failure rates among black students in a Florida county school system that abandoned racial integration.
That said, you've heard nothing about Stockman's columns or about the Tampa Bay Times reports. We explained the reason for that yesterday:
Nobody cares about any of this! More specifically, nobody cares about "stunning failure rates" among the nation's black kids. Nothing could be more obvious.
How good were those columns and reports? We can't tell you that. We weren't aware of Stockman's work, were only vaguely aware of the work by the Tampa Bay Times.
That said, both pieces of work garnered Pulitzer prizes—while leading to zero discussion. Your cable stars are much too busy rattling poll results.
We do feel sure that the Washington Post deserves its Pulitzer prize. Grynbaum describes its project thusly:
GRYNBAUM: The Pulitzers are now in their centennial year, and the winners announced by Columbia University on Monday reflected some of the changes sweeping the media landscape. Among the winners was The Marshall Project, an online outlet founded 17 months ago. The Washington Post took the national reporting prize for a project that used data, graphics and other tools of digital journalism to chronicle every killing by a police officer in 2015, unearthing fresh insights into a subject that has dominated the national political debate.As we noted some months back, the Washington Post did something amazing here. Breaking every rule in the book, it compiled real information about an important subject!
As we've said for many years, facts and information play almost no role in our discourse. The Post was swimming against the tide in this undertaking.
The Post compiled a wealth of data on the subject of police shootings. Their decision to do this was strange, because modern journalism is more often defined by the flight from data.
Our big newspapers refuse to produce accurate reports about domestic and international test scores. The refusal to do so almost seems to be a point of professional pride.
Those same newspapers refuse to report the crazy data which define the ginormous looting of us the people within our "health care system."
Both sets of data are very basic and very important; both sets of data are religiously kept from view. Incredibly, the Post decided to create a wealth of data about another important subject. For that highly unusual conduct, they well deserve their prize.
That said, ask yourself this:
According to Grynbaum, the Post has "unearth[ed] fresh insights into a subject that has dominated the national political debate." Do you have any idea what those insights are?
Have you seen a single discussion of the wealth of data the Washington Post created? Are you aware of a single "fresh insight" which has emerged from their work?
Grynbaum seems to be describing a world he imagines instead of the world which exists. We can think of many discussions which should have resulted from the Post's data, but we haven't seen those discussions occur. Our discourse is based on the reading of polls, with mugging and clowning thrown in.
In honor of the Post: We'll try to get to a discussion which should have followed from Ta-Nehisi Coates' best-selling book, Between the World and Me.
The discussion in question should have followed from that book, but manifestly didn't. We don't have discussions in our country. We have instead polls, gaffes and cant.