The Pulitzer Prize Board is finally recognizing the obvious: if newsprint's highest journalism award wants to stay relevant it had better welcome the Web.
The Pulitzer board announced Monday that it will consider entries from online-only publications in addition to print outlets for the 14 journalism categories that once were prestigious but now few care about.
Any organization interested in submitting stories for Pulitzer consideration must publish at least once a week, be U.S.-based, and feature original reporting. Online or print magazines need not apply. The Pulitzers are for daily or weekly news organizations.
Why the change of heart? The board has turned up its nose at online journalism for a decade, but not even the guardians of print journalism's highest honor can ignore that readers now favor getting information from online sources more than newspapers.
That's one reason why you've seen a bloodbath in the newspaper industry the past week. On Monday, Tribune Co. became the first major newspaper chain to declare bankruptcy in modern history. Last week, Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper publisher and parent company of USA Today, laid off more than 600 employees across its 85 daily papers in what was probably the largest single layoff in the sector's history, Reuters reported. Other major newspapers including The New York Times have cut staff in the past year.
The Pulitzer board opened its doors to the Web before there was no one left in print to honor.