A Dec. 8 Style article on the Pulitzer Prize board allowing online submissions for journalism awards misstated the date on which the Willamette Week of Portland, Ore., published its coverage that won last year's prize for investigative reporting. It was published on May 12, 2004. (Published 12/9/2005)
Next year's Pulitzer Prize for breaking news could go to stories that appeared only on a newspaper's Web site, according to changes announced yesterday by the Pulitzer board.
As part of a series of changes, the board that oversees the most prestigious awards in journalism said it will allow newspapers to submit online-only material for consideration for the top honor in breaking news and in news photography. The board also said that online photos and stories could be included as part of submissions in all 14 journalism categories.
The shift comes as newspapers across the country are grappling with declines in print circulation as online readership is rising. Publishers and editors have boosted resources for their Web sites and beefed up their online presence while scrambling to enliven their print editions for the Internet age.
"What it suggests is that the newspaper industry is evolving," said Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzers. "We're in a changing world."
The changes for breaking news could aid the Pulitzer chances of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which lost its ability to print newspapers briefly after Hurricane Katrina but continuously published storm coverage online. In keeping with the Pulitzer mandate, the online news award can go only to a newspaper Web site -- not a stand-alone site or blog.
A newspaper's submission of online breaking news would need to focus on a local event, such as the sniper shootings in the D.C. area, and represent developments that happened outside of normal press deadlines. Gissler said the Pulitzer board is giving newspapers an opportunity to be recognized for covering fast-moving stories before the next print edition hits the streets.
"The Pulitzer competition now reflects a blend of print and online material," he said. "It's a mix most newspapers are seeking to achieve today."
The board took its first step in allowing online material in submissions in 1999 when it approved Web presentations in applications for a Pulitzer in the public service category. In that case, newspapers were permitted to submit online databases, streaming video, interactive graphics and other elements reflecting the resources devoted to a story. In the changes announced yesterday, only written pieces and still photography that appeared online will be allowed as submissions in the 13 other categories.
Gissler said the board is closely watching the evolution of the newspaper industry and carefully considers each change. Among the factors that played into yesterday's decision was the experience of Willamette Week of Portland, Ore., which won the Pulitzer last year for investigative reporting. The story that would become the paper's prize-winning entry first broke on its Web site because of fast-moving developments. The piece, an investigation of a former governor's long-concealed sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, was then published in print the next day. The online story could not be part of Willamette Week's submission last year.
"Under the new rules, the initial online publication and later stories could be part of the package," Gissler said.
The Pulitzer board also revised rules for entries in the feature-writing category, stressing "quality of writing, originality and concision." The guideline previously placed prime consideration on "high literary quality and originality."
"We're trying to encourage shorter, high-quality submissions in addition to the long packages we get," Gissler said.