Monday’s Pulitzer Prize announcement brought cheers from newsrooms across the country. When the list of winners was announced, satirical newspaper the Onion wasn’t among them — defying a characteristically hyperbolic threat from the humor publication that their “anonymous man” columnist would go on a killing spree if the paper wasn’t awarded the most prestigious prize in journalism.
But as the staff of the Onion moped, another publication whose Pulitzer aspirations were once also material for jokes celebrated: The Huffington Post. Reporter David Wood’s “Beyond the Battlefield” series about wounded soldiers won the national reporting prize, the publication’s first. The Huffington Post’s win could open up the field for other non-traditional outlets to take awards.
Funny fake threats from a funny and fake news source such as the Onion aside, folks who are categorically shut out of the Pulitzers make it their duty to make fun of the awards. That includes Gawker, who suggested a list of “new” Pulitzer prizes for next year, among them: “Michelle Obama Eating Hamburgers Reporting,” “Pasting Wikipedia Articles Into Your Blog Posts Reporting,” and “Instagram of Food.” Others joked on Twitter about what tweets should win the prize, with @pourmecoffee offering this one as the winner:
Yo Yo Ma on the floor of a bathroom, with a wombat. twitter.com/petersagal/sta…— Peter Sagal (@petersagal) December 14, 2011
The same kind of snark was reserved for the Huffington Post’s Pulitzer real-life win Monday. Huffington — who advocated for the Onion’s Pulitzer campaign by joking that she would make every single link on the Huffington Post direct to the Columbia Journalism School, which runs the Pulitzers, and crash their Web site. On Monday, the Huffington Post became the butt of a similar joke on Twitter.
Did Huffpo really win a Pulitzer or did they just link to one?— ben schwartz (@benschwartzy) April 16, 2012
Bloggers worldwide pine each year, both jokingly and earnestly, for a special category for their work, so could this year’s National Reporting award to David Wood of the Huffington Post could be a step in that direction? Not really: Wood’s series about wounded soldiers is a traditional reporting project; its novelty comes from the fact that it appears on the Huffington Post instead of a dead-tree edition somewhere.
As for the Onion, the Pulitzer committee took its facetious threats as seriously as it took its stories. “If The Onion is not awarded a Pulitzer Prize within the next calendar year, so help me God, I WILL SAVAGELY MURDER 50 INNOCENT SOULS, and the Pulitzer Board’s hands shall be soaked in blood instead of jammed down Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.’s underpants the way they usually are,” wrote the Onion columnist. He didn’t say which category the Onion should win — maybe all of them?
That columnist wasn’t the only one disappointed by the Onion’s loss. Back in June, Tom Hanks, Neil Gaiman, Ricky Gervais and former senator Russ Feingold, along with Huffington, were among the celebrities who spoke out on the behalf of the Onion’s Pulitzer campaign through an organization called the Americans for Fairness in Awarding Journalism Prizes. That organization was later revealed to have embezzled cash, and the story was reported by — you guessed it — the Onion.
The New York Times reported that the Onion does actually submit its work to the Pulitzer. The grass-roots campaign for its Pulitzer last summer may have been ill-timed for the award, but commemorated the paper’s 1,000th issue.
Americans for Fairness in Awarding Journalism Prizes abandoned its grass-roots campaign for the Onion’s Pulitzer over the summer (and after those embezzlement charges, natch). But an editorial from its leader, T. Herman Zweibel, speaks for any and all sore losers out there:
“So enjoy these Pulitzer-worthy offerings, you self-congratulatory, self-centered, self-styled intellectuals! Here are stories hewn from the very living bedrock of journalism, carved into perfect inverted pyra-mids by editorial masons, and held together with the honeyed mortar of earnest-ness and popular sentiment. If these are not worthy of Pulitzer’s jumped-up, scrap-heap medallion, then I do not know what is.”