For purposes of this exercise, I'll focus on the Pulitzer Prize won by the Chicago Sun-Times for local reporting after the series that they produced looking into crime in Chicago. After scanning and reading all of the stories and looking at some of the photographs, so many different aspects jumped out at me – and above all else, that is a huge part of winning a Pulitzer Prize. Many organizations are able to produce stories that are gripping once or in one area, but these stories were focused on a wide variety of topics, but honed in masterfully on the Windy City and some of the major problems that Chicago is facing.
The stories that sticks out most were the two about people in this culture not wanting to ‘snitch’ and tell police who some of the criminals were despite knowing who they were. The best one, which looked at one boy who was shot and as he way dying, a police officer asked who shot him to which he replied “I ain’t telling you s**t.” The personal story that this piece had is something that I remember and I think that is one of the best compliments that a story can have – it was memorable.
The crime that takes place in a large city like Chicago is newsworthy for some many reasons. But the Sun-Times went about it a different way and was rewarded for that. They benefited local readers with stories that the local readers actually cared about. In the package that won the award, it seemed like there were numerous cosmic moments. There was the line of the boy that wouldn’t talk to police. There was the line that all of the shooters from a giant shoot-up escaped charges. This package encompassed so many things which is really what drove the project to be so good.
While the stories didn’t necessarily follow a different style, they certainly carried a more relaxed voice and feel to them. For example, one story opens up with the words “This is the story of … “ That seems like an odd and ultra relaxed lead, but with this project, the writer made it work. The biggest thing, though, that took this series to the next level, was how close the writers and photographers were able to get to every aspect of this crime scene in a large cities. They followed police, doctors and families. The Sun-Times did an outstanding job with this project reporting on the local news that Chicago residents want to read.