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Pulitzers Are The New Tony

In case you missed it, and I did, this week the winners of the Pulitzer Prize were announced. Not that I ever followed particularly closely, but I do remember a time when people actually cared about the Pulitzers. Their Pulitzer award the Washington Post won in 1973 for Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate work was notable. This year the Washington Post won six Pulitzers and sadly no one seems to have noticed.

Industry awards, while handed out under the guise of critical merit, actually serve the primary function of building buzz about the underlying product. In other words, its all about increasing commercial appeal - a/k/a sales. It is certainly why the movie industry spends so much time promoting the importance of the Oscars - if a studio wins one, the picture is pretty much guaranteed to be a hit commercially. Sure they have to throw off some of those winnings to the actors/ directors, but by then, who cares? There's plenty to go around.

The Grammy's used to be important too and heavily promoted by the industry too. But then something happened - the music industry stopped making money. Even if an album/ CD won a Grammy, it wouldn't sell more because, well, no one buys any albums or cds any more, Grammy winning or not. No commercial boost = no one cares about the award. As a result, the industry (and everyone else) stopped caring about the Grammy's.

So back to the Pulitzer. There used to be a time when distribution capabilities of content were limited. That barrier to entry to news and media kept the playing field small and let newspapers make tons of dough. Awards like the Pulitzers mattered in that they were good promotional devices for the newspaper brand, thereby increasing distribution and ad rates. Journalists never figured out how to cash in on them like actors did on the Oscars, but that was even more reason for the papers to promote it.

No more though. Distributing content is open season - it's cheap and easy. Since no one buys the print paper or goes to the newspaper web site, nobody is buying the ads they sell. As a result, the industry's revenue is in a free fall. These days having "Pulitzer Award winning" on the by-line adds exactly zero value. As a result, no one bothers spending any money promoting the award. Just another victim of the problems of the news industry.

To this end, the Pulitzers look a lot more like the Grammy's, the Tony's and probably pretty soon the Emmy's, than the Oscars.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 11, 2008 11:18 AM.

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