Diary of a Mad County

April 12 - April 18

Tuesday, April 18
Wake up today to see that the Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday, and while I couldn't be happier that David M. Oshinsky won the history prize for his uproarious book Polio: An American Story—way to go, Oshki! I got first round at the Red Ass!—a picture on the front page of the LA Times disturbs me. The picture shows New Orleans Times-Picayune publisher Ashton Phelps Jr. wildly celebrating with the paper's staff their victory in the public service category, the Pulitzer's equivalent of the Best Picture award. The Times-Picayune, along with the Biloxi Sun Herald, won for their coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and while I laud their accomplishment, it is disconcerting, once again, to see newspaper folk seemingly dancing on the graves of their subjects. See, this isn't the first time we've witnessed this scene. If you have something truly horrific happen in your area—natural disaster, terrorist attack, construction of a Wal-Mart—you're pretty much guaranteed a Pulitzer Prize. TheNew York Times won for its coverage of 9/11, and the Miami Herald won for its coverage of Hurricane Andrew in 1993, the same year the LA Times won for its spot news coverage of the LA riots. In all these cases, as with New Orleans, the papers reacted to the news that showed up, which they did very well, no question. And they deserve to be rewarded for their work, but in receiving that recognition I think they should show a little more decorum than partying like they just won the lotto—especially in New Orleans, where, apparently, there are still bodies to be found. If you do something on your own, as the Times-Picayune did in 1997 when it won the public service award for its series on the world's threatened supply of fish, scream, yell and show your boobs. But stop with the celebrating of other people's misfortune. It's so Pat Robertson. (And no, this isn't sour grapes because our groundbreaking series on the cute pet names women have for their hoo-haws was ignored by the committee, again.)

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