The Pulitzer Prizes were announced today, and among the winners was the staff of The Denver Post for its coverage of the Aurora, Colo., shootings last summer – coverage in which Twitter and Facebook (and to a lesser extent, Storify) played a big role.
At this point, it’s so obvious that it seems almost silly to note that social media plays a role in how reporters break stories. However, it also appears to be a bigger influence on the Pulitzers, specifically the breaking news category, following a decision in 2011 to emphasize the importance of real-time reporting (in other words, it’s not enough to save the news for the next day’s paper). And indeed, the first winner after the changes, The Tuscaloosa News, included screenshots of its Twitter feed in its submission, and the Pulitzer committee cited its use of “social media as well as traditional reporting.”
The Post’s entry is even more extensive, highlighting 48 pages of Facebook updates and tweets from The Post account and staff from the first 24 hours of coverage.
“The people who follow @denverpost and our reporters and editors knew what we knew — immediately,” The Post wrote.
And the Pulitzer committee specifically cites the newspaper’s “comprehensive coverage … using journalistic tools, from Twitter and Facebook to video and written reports, both to capture a breaking story and provide context.”
The social media package actually opens with a screenshot of The Post’s Storify page, which chronicles four days of tweets from the paper and its staff. Storify co-founder Burt Herman told me that this is the first time his company has had a role in Pulitzer-winning coverage.