Pulitzer Prizes Switch To All-Digital Entry Format, Change Breaking News Criteria

Want to submit your work for a 2012 Pulitzer Prize? This year, journalists have to do so digitally.

In a move emphasizing the inexorable advance of the Web in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced on Wednesday that it will be turning its entry process into an entirely digital affair. The 95-year old competition has long been known for requiring journalists to build a "scrapbook" or "portfolio," compiled of submissions on paper.

As of the 2012 competition (for which entries are due on January 25, 2012), all entries, from the written word to moving images, must be submitted digitally through Pulitzer's website.

The Board also updated one of the categories within the journalism competition. The Local Reporting of Breaking News category has been revised to include "real-time reporting of breaking news."

The category's new emphasis acknowledges the role online news websites and social media tools play in maximizing journalists' ability to break news far more quickly and efficiently than in years past.

Speaking about submissions to the revised category, the Board said "that it would be disappointing if an event occurred at 8 a.m. and the first item in an entry was drawn from the next day's newspaper." It also encouraged entrants to submit a chronology of their breaking news coverage.

Read the full press release below.

The Pulitzer Prize Board is moving its journalism competition online and, beginning now, entries in its 14 journalism categories must be submitted electronically.

The change, announced today, will affect the 2012 competition, which covers work during calendar 2011.

The Board has also revised the definition for Local Reporting of Breaking News, one of its prize categories, by emphasizing real-time reporting of breaking news.

The new entry system ends the submission of entries on paper, typically in the form of a scrapbook, a practice dating to the start of the prizes 95 years ago. All entry material, ranging from stories to photographs, graphics and video, must now be submitted in a digital form through a special Pulitzer entry site.

Details on the change, along with revised rules and guidelines, will be available Dec. 7 on the Pulitzer home site The deadline for entries is Jan. 25, 2012, a week earlier than in past years.

The new system will streamline the submission process for entries, which number about 1,100 a year, and will make it easier for Pulitzer journalism jurors and the Pulitzer Board to manage and judge the entries. Pulitzer juries nominate three finalists in each prize category. The winner, in turn, is chosen by the Board.

The Board continues to welcome a full range of journalistic tools – such as text articles, interactive graphics, blogs, databases, video and other forms of multimedia – in 12 of its 14 categories. The two photography categories remain restricted to still images, which must be submitted as digital files.

The revised definition for Breaking News focuses on reporting that, “as quickly as possible, captures events accurately as they occur, and, as time passes, illuminates, provides context, and expands upon the initial coverage.”

In an example intended to underline the importance of real-time reporting, the Board said that it would be disappointing if an event occurred at 8 a.m. and the first item in an entry was drawn from the next day’s newspaper.

The Board also suggested that entrants provide a timeline, in its cover letter or in supplemental material, detailing the chronology of events in a breaking story and how it relates to the timing of items that comprise the entry.

In all Pulitzer categories, entries must be based on material coming from a United States newspaper or news site that publishes at least weekly and adheres to the highest journalistic principles. Magazines and broadcast media, and their respective websites, are not eligible.

The new electronic system for journalism, which includes credit card payment of the $50 entry fee, does not apply to entries in the book, drama or music prize categories.

The Pulitzer Prizes, which are administered at Columbia University, were established by Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian-American journalist and newspaper publisher, who left money to Columbia University upon his death in 1911. A portion of his bequest was used to found the School of Journalism in 1912 and establish the Pulitzer Prizes, which were first awarded in 1917.