Media Moves

Investigating business and finance and the Pulitzer Prizes

July 1, 2016

Posted by Chris Roush

PulitzerAlicia Shepard of Nieman Reports writes about how many Pulitzer Prize-winning stories focus on corporations and financial interests even those there’s no business reporting category.

Shepard writes, “The Pulitzers have been awarded to reporters covering business as far back as 1921 when The Boston Post won the Public Service award for exposing Charles Ponzi’s moneymaking schemes that eventually led to his arrest. In 1929, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch won for reporting on a federal official’s secret leasing of oil reserves, known as the Teapot Dome scandal. It was considered one of the worst scandals in federal history prior to Watergate in 1972.

“Pulitzers have been handed to journalists at organizations large and small for holding businesses accountable in several categories: Public Service, Investigative Reporting, Explanatory Reporting, and National Reporting. Those stories take on topics affecting us all, such as Apple’s Chinese assemblers working with toxic chemicals in sweatshop conditions, Wal-Mart’s Goliath influence, Medicare doctors abusing the system, corporations covering up fatal accidents at railway crossings, and how wealthy citizens and corporations exploit tax loopholes and avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

“‘If you want to cover stuff that really affects people’s lives, forget Congress. You want to cover business,’ says Mark Vamos, chair of business journalism at Southern Methodist University and former editor in chief of Fast Company.

“A large focus of business journalism attempts to hold the powerful accountable, which often poses immense reporting challenges. ‘One of the biggest challenges we faced was that we didn’t have any real sources to guide us,’ says Mason about the AP seafood investigation. ‘The reason it took so long is we didn’t have what you have with most stories, some road map, documents, data, or a source who could point us. We had to figure it out piece by piece, like a jigsaw puzzle.'”

Read more here.

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