The Oscars (cringe!) of journalism held on Monday, the 10th of April and there was some cheer for one of Nigeria’s leading investigative journalism platforms, Premium Times.
The work by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a network of International media companies including Premium Times, on the ‘Panama Papers’ was recognized with a Pulitzer Prize. The Panama Papers exposed the exploitation of Tax Havens by top Government Officials; at least three top Nigerians officials and others in the business industry were implicated; not an awful lot has been done since, to be honest.
According to information on the Pulitzer Prizes website, the 2017 edition is the 101st since the inception in 1916. Some of the categories rewarded included reporting in Public Service, Investigative Journalism, Criticism, Commentary, as well as works of Fiction, Drama, History and Poetry.
Covering a period when news was heavily centered on the election of Donald Trump, the New York Times led the Honors List with three Prizes, to consolidate their collection as the most decorated news company in Pulitzer terms. Other notable tabloids, like the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, picked up one Prize each. Four of the five awards of the three, were works directly related to the dynamics of America as influenced by Mr Trump.
We note that, Harper Collins, the publisher for Chimamanda Adichie’s new book ‘Dear Ijeawele’ , made the finals as a co-publisher in the Poetry category. Remember she was named one of Fortune’s 50 World Leaders, and Americanah won the One Book One New York contest last March? Make up your mind on what we are getting at here.
It is necessary to be interested in the quality of work rewarded at the Pulitzers. Perhaps we may not so much argue about the level of ideological bias involved in determining winners; what we cannot fight is that whatever work is rewarded deserves commendation for originality and depth of substance. If there is an obsession for the AMVCAs to be like the Oscars, then we should want our journalism to be comparable to theirs too.
We are drifting to a period when some local publishers feel threatened by blogs, therefore abandoning substance for the spurious. There is also a gradual flowering of a fake news problem. A refocus is necessary, but how do we pull it off? Pul-it-zers?
See the full list of the Pulitzer Prize Winners for 2017 and add something worthwhile to your reading list.