Congrats Web Writers: You Are Now Pulitzer Eligible!

Sure, the Tribune Co. has just filed for bankruptcy, Gannett just laid off 2000 workers and The New York Times Co. has to borrow against its building. But the true sign of the times in the media industry: It was announced today that, for the first time, Web-only news outlets will be eligible for Pulitzer Prizes.

Pulitzer Administrator Sig Gissler told Joe Strupp at my magazine, Editor & Publisher, today that "we are expanding the Pulitzers to include many text-based newspapers and news organizations that publish only on the Internet." They are "stressing" that all entered material should come from news outlets that publish material at least weekly, "are primarily dedicated to original news reporting, are dedicated to coverage of ongoing stories and that adhere to the highest journalistic principles."

Gissler said the change, to take effect with the 2009 prizes - to be announced in April -- is occurring as part of an effort to "keep up with the changing media landscape." You betcha, as someone once said.

Asked, for example, if a news outlet such as Huffington Post -- which calls itself an "Internet newspaper" and is a mix of personal blogs, link aggregation and original reporting -- would be eligible, he declined to comment saying he did not want to discuss any individual outlet.

Sites that call themselves online "magazines" would be ineligible (this might rule out Slate and Salon).

The board has recently allowed newspapers to submit online elements with their entries. But this marks the first time Web-only news outlets will be able to compete. See this link for a full Q & A on the rules.

"This is an important step forward, reflecting our continued commitment to American newspapers as well as our willingness to adapt to the remarkable growth of online journalism," Gissler said in a release. "The new rules enlarge the Pulitzer tent and recognize more fully the role of the Web, while underscoring the enduring value of words and of serious reporting." The Board adopted the changes at its November meeting at Columbia University after "a lengthy study by a committee."

Stand back, Dana Priest, you've got some fresh competition!

Greg Mitchell is editor of E&P. His latest book, on Iraq and the media, is titled "So Wrong for So Long." His book on the 2008 election campaign will be published next month.