The Washington Post

Editorial writing anachronistic?

Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan writes that The Pulitzers’ decision not to award a prize in editorial writing speaks to a bigger theme:

We’d like to state our formal strong agreement with the Pulitzer Committee’s acknowledgment—however tardy—that institutional editorial writing is a worthless anachronism in this modern media age.

Good riff, with a caveat: The Pulitzer people have done this several times before, in moments that sort of precede “this modern media age.” Yes, you could argue that 2008 — the last time it dissed editorial writing — was squarely within the bounds of the modern media age.

But 1993? 1981? 1935, 1932, 1930, 1921 and 1919? Perhaps editorial writing has been anachronistic the whole way along, regardless of media epoch. Yet have a look at the writeup for the nominated finalists for this year’s no-award. Seems as if there’s some un-anachronistic editorializing going on out there:

Nominated as finalists in this category were: Paula Dwyer and Mark Whitehouse of Bloomberg News for their analysis of and prescription for the European debt crisis, dealing with important technical questions in ways that the average readers could grasp; Tim Nickens, Joni James, John Hill and Robyn Blumner of the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times for editorials that examined the policies of a new, inexperienced governor and their impact on the state, using techniques that stretched the typical editorial format and caused the governor to mend some of his ways; and Aki Soga and Michael Townsend, of the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press, for their campaign that resulted in the state’s first reform of open government laws in 35 years, reducing legal obstacles that helped shroud the work of government officials.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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