Blogging for A Pulitzer: Telling the Right Kind of Story
Here’s the inspiration:
The 1924 Pulitzer Prize for reporting went to Magner White, a reporter for the San Diego Sun, for his account of a noontime solar eclipse that occurred Sept. 10, 1923.
White’s account, in the lean, vivid prose of the day, had weird gusts of wind hitting the city, circus animals pacing and roaring, prostitutes falling to their knees and vowing to change their wicked ways, and San Diego residents exchanging “ghastly smiles, pale lilies they are.”
…A book listing Pulitzer winners notes, “He wrote the story from the newsroom.”
The last line is, of course, the punch line. Do we really need to stick the reporter into the raging winds of the hurricane? Does the journalist really need to march down to Larry King Square on Sunset Boulevard to capture the gleeful horror of 371 dead pigeons that fell from the sky like the official beginning of doomsday?
Of course not. That shit can be written from home. If Magner White had been alive beside the Internet, he would have flourished as a blogger. Would he have won the Pulitzer? Well, I don’t know. That’s what I’m going for, but I’m no Magner White.
I wonder if it’s always worth it to send men and women into “the field” to document whatever juicy events are happening. Let them sit in rooms and make it up! That’s what CNN does. That’s what our president does. And his chief of anti-terrorism. They say things like, Osama bin Laden was in a firefight with the Seals. Bin Laden held in front of him a poor, defenseless, screaming woman who was his wife, to block his body from the gunfire. And, predator drones haven’t killed any innocent people.
The president wasn’t at the Abbottabad raid, but he talked of it with great detail on television. Later, the old pimp mafioso Leon Panetta said there wasn’t much gunfire. Bin Laden was plucked between the eyes with a single shot. He was in a room, and he turned around. Pop!
Let’s not even mention Jessica Lynch, Pat Tillman, the entire Afghanistan war, or the Yemen missile strike the Pentagon claimed they didn’t do (because it killed 35 women and children). There are general facts, but as a writer, artist, thinker, and politician, you can make them into a sordid collage.
So I don’t mind embellishing, or flatly making up events and details from my tiny studio apartment. I don’t mind using a few extra salacious adverbs that might give the story a twist. Magner White won a Pulitzer Prize doing that. And our president, well, he gets to fly free, he gets top security, he can start wars without fighting them, he’s set up for the rest of his life, and he doesn’t have to get rubbed down by the TSA.
If you’re innocent, and you tell the right kind of story, you can go almost anywhere in life.