Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Point-Counterpoint:Did The National Enquirer deserve a Pulitzer?

<ong>Article breaking news about Edwards’ affair merited the award – By David Sacks

 This past week, the Pulitzer Prizes in journalism were handed out, and the traditional powerhouses such as The New York Times and The Washington Post went home with these prestigious prizes.  One publication that was conspicuously left out was a supermarket tabloid, The National Enquirer

Yes, The National Enquirer usually runs stories about Whitney Houston’s relapse on crack, or Jennifer Aniston’s family crisis, but one story that they broke was extremely significant and became a part of national discussion.  This story exposed John Edwards for cheating on his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, and fathering a love child with his mistress. 
Not only did The National Enquirer break the story, but also they stuck with it and kept providing details and even pictures of Edwards with his child, even as the story was initially denied by Edwards and not acknowledged by the traditional print media.  Edwards eventually admitted to the affair, and has been largely out of the public eye since then.
Some might dismiss this story and say that we should not care about someone’s personal life, but can you imagine what would have happened if Edwards became President or even Vice-President and later this scandal was unearthed? 

Edwards, before this story broke, had no intentions of coming clean, and by all accounts thought of himself as being invincible and made of Teflon. Had Edwards been elected or appointed to any high position, America would have endured a crisis once this news came to light. 

Also, there is an implicit double standard by those on the committee for the Pulitzer Prize because The National Enquirer did not win.  The New York Times won a Pulitzer for reporting on the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal.  The Pulitzer Prize is handed out to stories exposing people’s personal lives, it seems though that it just matters what publication runs it. 

So who did win the prize for investigative reporting instead of The National Enquirer?  One recipient revealed a rogue Philadelphia police narcotics unit, while another chronicled the life-and-death decisions made by a doctor during Hurricane Katrina after being cut off by the floodwaters.  Both of these pieces were deserving and interesting, but neither of these subjects became a part of dinner table conversations around America and neither was subsequently discussed on an almost nightly basis following the revelations.  Furthermore, these stories will fade away much more quickly than the Edwards story, which will stay with Americans for years to come. 

It was a mistake not to award the Pulitzer Prize to The National Enquirer, as it ignored one of the biggest stories in America, and one that become a part of the national conversation.  The National Enquirer successfully exposed a man who had every intention of becoming President or holding another high office for being a fraud and, essentially, a jerk. This story deserves to be rewarded, and the merit of the story should stand above the publication printing it. 

The Enquirer is not a Pulitzer-worthy publication – By Justin Rotman

Earlier this week, when it was announced that The National Enquirer did not win a Pulitzer Prize in either the categories of investigative or national reporting, a sense of rationality and reason was returned to the world of journalism. While The Enquirer certainly did real, authentic reporting to uncover the John Edwards affair, a scandal that could have had disastrous effects had Edwards been elected to executive office, a supermarket tabloid whose main goal is to report and fabricate celebrities’ love lives does not deserve such a prestigious award.

     While many will bark that nearly half of the winners of journalism Pulitzers for 2010 were from The New York Times and The Washington Post, this is how it should be. It’s not that journalists should win simply because of the publications they write for, but as two of the most read and highly regarded newspapers in the world, they tend to attract some of the best writers in the world. It’s the same reason why actors and actresses like Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep are frequently nominated for Academy Awards. Giving a Pulitzer to The National Enquirer would be like Seth Rogan winning Best Actor for his performance in Superbad. Brilliant? Yes. Oscar worthy? Please. 

For years The National Enquirer has set the standard for tabloid journalism. It is common knowledge that they pay their sources for information, a tactic that severely backfired in 2002 when they paid two sources $20,000 for information in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case that turned out to be false. Some past headlines have included “Town in panic over 2,000 UFO sightings,” “I’m a Cher wannabe in a man’s body,” “Jerry Lewis’s son weds 300 lb. computer date,” “Near-death experiences make you healthier, happier—and smarter.” When was the last time you picked up a copy of USA Today only to read something like “Family eats barbecued meat—finds it was their dog?” When Tyco makes an “Outrageously Funny Headline Game” based on your tabloid, you should probably recognize that you’re not in the business for an award that recognizes “excellence in journalism.” 

This being said, The National Enquirer did a fabulous job in discovering and reporting the Edwards affair. They were the first to report it and followed up with pictures and more investigative reporting that turned out to be true. It was certainly above and beyond what anyone would expect from The Enquirer. You can’t have it both ways, though. You can’t be a supermarket tabloid that reports Kirstie Alley’s daily weight and then expect to be recognized with the elite in journalism. The Enquirer should be commended for its work, but not in the form of a Pulitzer. It shows enough that it was even nominated for the award, something that says “we’ve already won” according to executive editor Barry Levine. If The National Enquirer wanted a Pulitzer Prize, it should have reported on the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana when it had the first information 32 years ago. Perhaps mistakes like that and headlines that scream “Read me if you have no life” contributed to a credibility that is nowhere near Pulitzer Prize worthy.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *