A Missing Pulitzer Prize: An Open Letter to Features Journalists

pulitzer_logo

The Pulitzer board did not award a prize for feature writing this year.

Why?

The Poynter Institute’s Roy Peter Clark, a former Pulitzer juror and a friend of features folks, speculated this week that part of the reason for the snub is that features journalism is a bit hard to define.

What is features writing anyway?

Members of our organization, the Society for Features Journalism, produce some of the finest narrative storytelling in journalism. Some of us drive cultural and artistic discussions in our communities. Many of us still tell stories no one else would spend to time to do.

And, yes, some of us are writing celebrity blogs, compiling Top 10 lists, making how-to videos, posting reality show recaps and cooking up crazy reader contests.

It’s all features.

Features writers, editors and producers have been rattled by the recession and the changes in the news industry. Arts critics are rare these days, and features sections have been decimated or eliminated.

But know this: Many of the survivors — lifestyle and arts and entertainment journalists — are leading newsrooms into a digital age and finding new ways to reach out to readers and tell stories. Innovative work in newsrooms is being driven by the features staffs, who, through powerful and resourceful storytelling, learned the hard way to create something exciting, often from nothing.

Quality features journalism is spreading beyond traditional print newsrooms. Some of the recent winners in our SFJ national writing awards were from CNN and Today.com.

Did features journalism take a hit Monday when the Pulitzer board decided to withhold a prize in features writing?

No way.

Betsey Guzior
President, SFJ
Features Editor, The State, Columbia, SC

P.S. SFJ guarantees prizes in its annual writing and best section contest. Enter by clicking here

Advertisements