Today, we headed all the way uptown to Columbia University for the annual presentation of the Pulitzer Prizes. We spied some bigwigs of New York media, like Bill Keller celebrating The New York Times‘ five award haul (“I feel pretty damn good,” he told FishbowlNY) and Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize winner himself for his biography of Andrew Jackson, “American Lion.”
Overall, the mood of the day was celebratory but somber (and the rainy weather didn’t help). Pulitzer Prize board co-chair, Anders Gyllenhaal (shown above), touched briefly on the sad state of traditional media today in his opening remarks and noted, although this was the first year that online-only publications could submit entries for Pulitzers, that he believed that online journalism still has a ways to go.
“Start-ups are not yet delivering the kind of probing, authoritative work that journalism’s service to the community should be about,” he said.
Read on for more insight from Keller, Meacham and Douglas Blackmon
Despite Gyllenhaal’s opinion on online journalism, Pulitzer Prize winner Douglas Blackmon advocated a multimedia approach, particularly with promotions for books. It’s what he used to promote his book, “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II,” he said.
“The Web site for my book was actually a big part of the formula for its success,” he said. “Readers today have more urgency and expectations. Many of them want to be able to touch the author quickly. Publishers are going to have to be a lot smarter and a lot more aggressive about starting all that.”
Keller also took pride in the work that the Times is doing online. “I don’t think anyone would accuse the Times of being Luddites or anti-new media if they’ve seen our Web site,” he told us.
He also happily celebrated the Times total prize haul. “I feel pretty damn good,” he said. “I don’t know if its vindication, but it feels like just desserts, not just for the people getting the awards, but for the institution.”
And, of course, we had to ask Meacham (left) about his reaction to some of the critical lumps the reformatted Newsweek has been getting in the press. “It just means you’re respirating,” he shrugged.
–Additional reporting by Hunter Walker
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