Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tale of Two Prizes. Pulitzer Time. Deserved Incentive Prize for Excellence. Nobel Prize. Encourage a Path.

A Tale of Two Prizes. Pulitzer and Nobel.


The Nobel to Obama; 
Follows the Will of Alfred Nobel

Needed:  A Pulitzer to the Journalist Who Tracks that Issue.
The Criteria are in the Will

Well done, Obama.


1.  The Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama:  Do his advances and innovations in seeking Peace qualify as "achievement".  Yes. There is clear precedent for this kind of humanitarian approach to problems. See Nobel's site at ://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1999/presentation-speech.html/. Such awards are given even where the overall goal has not yet been reached.

The Peace Prize is an award to the sowers among us.


* Here, example of sower, Quebec, roadside.
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2.  The Pulitzer Price for Journalism.  Which journalist will get the Pulitzer Prize for excellence in serving the people in coverage of the Nobel.  Few qualify so far, because few reference the mandate of the Pulitzer Committee in assessing their decision. Pulitzer saw journalism as a "noble profession, and one with unequaled importance for its influence upon the minds and morals of the people." See ://www.pulitzer.org/historyofprizes/

The Pulitzer Journalism Prize is an award to those who play fair, serving truths, respecting rules, greater than self-interest.
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Modern journalism: As back in Pulitzer's day, do we now see a recurrence of yellow journalists (of which Pulitzer himself had been one): the biased opinion expressed in the guise of fact, see Yellow Journalism at ://library.thinkquest.org/C0111500/spanamer/yellow.htm.  The yellow journalism of yesterday is persuasion journalism of today. Not Pulitzer material.

SUMMARY

The two sets of Prizes here have familiar names, but a closer look at their backgrounds helps assess the brouhaha about President Obama's award for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Pulitzer-Nobel. Nobel-Pulitzer. Which is which, and did the Nobel Committee stay within its mandate to reward achievement. How is "achievement" defined in the Prize context. Edit online until we get it reasonably right.
  • Here we look at the prizes set up by Alfred Nobel and Joseph Pulitzer in the early 20th Century.  There is some overlap in subject matter.  Nobel rewards achievement in a) fields of knowledge in the sciences, b) the creative mind in literature,  and c) peace - human relationships on the international scale. Pulitzer rewards excellence in  a) public service in journalism, and  b) the arts and letters. 
  • Is it appropriate for the Nobel to award the Peace Prize for Advances and Innovation, for dedication to a process, even if the goal is not yet reached, or may never be reached.  
 And, where there are obstructions set up by others or circumstances or human nature to achieving success, do the ideas of the one whose path is obstructed still get rewarded for the advances they represent. See ://nobelprize.org/alfred_nobel/  Changing ways of thinking is a slow process, no magic final stroke solves human problems, see the Presentation Speech for the award in 1999 at  ://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1999/presentation-speech.html/  That award was for humanitarian work in medicine, for helping.

Our conclusion so far is yes both ways. The award is appropriate, and not tarnished because Peace has not been achieved. Advances and innovation in approach can constitute "achievement" justifying a Nobel prize even if the goal itself is not yet reached. And if the goal of public service and international cooperation is being barred intentionally, by those whose own goal is to obstruct out of their own financial and political interest, and not to serve the people, and without entering into dialogue with other proposals of merit, the fact that the advances and innovations have not achieved the goal does not reflect adversely on the merits of the approach.

The Nobel Peace Prize award to President Obama was appropriate, even brilliant, because "peace" is ongoing process, never "accomplished" despite the signing of papers. Rumbles continue and reworkings always needed. There is no full stop in the field of human and state relationships. The Committee applied the mandated standards. Go back to the Presentation Speech
  • So: Which journalist would get a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in covering the issue?  Apply the Pulitzer standard. The Pulitzer journalism standard is public service, and the award is an incentive to excellence.  Excellence is a stand-alone concept; and discretionary with the Committee. A work can be excellent even if it is obstructed by others for their reasons (ban, censor, misrepresent, pan). 
Does anyone on earth have a consistent record in anything? Of course not. Pulitzer himself engaged in yellow journalism, see ://www.humboldt.edu/~jcb10/yellow.html/  He and Randolph Hearst and sensationalism degraded journalism.  That had an impact on international relations, see Effect of the Press on Spanish-American Relations in 1898, by John Baker, at ://www.humboldt.edu/~jcb10/spanwar.shtml/

The Pulitzer organization treats that as a lapse, outweighed by his achievements in public service, see ://www.pulitzer.org/biography. That is another whole topic:  Pulitzer's change of heart here?  For our purposes, we will use the Pulitzer of the Prizes, not try to sort out his inconsistencies, and the inconsistencies we see on the web about him.

With that premise, that Pulitzer engaged in Yellow Journalism but moved beyond it, our conclusion so far is that few, if any, journalists have served the public by enabling the public to draw its own conclusions.  Pulitzer fought yellow journalists. That became a mission for him.

Where is there a journalist here who is presenting first, a neutral and thorough fact background, then reasoned through to an opinion stemming from those facts deemed most relevant, that then is clearly separated by text from the fact section.  We are still looking. No Pulitzer Prize for journalism here.  All we seem to get is opinion, without reference to the standards, and a piling-on thereafter. No award for churning.

Persuasion journalism, or its extreme, yellow journalism, is not Pulitzer material.

Next steps: 

1.  Blend the two sets of Prizes to unconfuse the public. Apply the Remarkable Achievement idea of the Nobel Peace (including the advancement and innovation) and the Excellence in public service of the Pulitzer Journalism.

There can indeed be excellence in the advancement, the work and the goals, despite a path obstructed by others, or no "success" yet, if ever. That means one set of blockers cannot intentionally bar the prize by their blocking.

2.  Anyone presenting stories about the Prizes, educate the public about the standards. Or

3.  Reframe "Peace" in terms of medicine. We understand the language of process, ongoing issues, application of theories, disease, treatment, and the ultimate but rare cure. Or reframe it as "pacific international relations".

Peace is waffley.  It is not a field of knowledge.  It is a manifestation, of whether we can control ourselves or not. A status that may not last despite all.  If medicine gets away with awards short of cure, why should not people get awards short of peace. Even "pacific international relations" suggests an ongoing process, change.

If we use the disease imagery, the disease is warring:  human aggression, abuse, exploitation, selfishness, obstructionism for economic or political gain at the expense of others.  Even if the disease of warring is not cured by a new application for treatment (negotiation, climate for cooperation etc), and the drive to war is not cured,  the Prize Committees propery reward the excellence of the ideas of the one on the path.

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DISCUSSION

I.   The Prizes.  

A.  Joseph Pulitzer and His Prizes, Including for Public Service in Journalism


Joseph Pulitzer was a newspaper publisher, a visionary, Hungarian by background, "a passionate crusader against dishonest government." He set up, through his will, in about 1904, a system of prizes to be awarded, with a particular mission in journalism, history, biography, letters:  as "an incentive to excellence (emphasis supplies)".  See The Pulitzer Prizes at ://www.pulitzer.org/historyofprizes/.

Prizes were first given in 1917.  And the categories were:
  • journalism
  • letters and drama
    • an American novel
    • an original American play shown in NY
    • a book on American history
    • an American biography
    • a history of public history, press
  • education
  • traveling scholarships
Pulitzer's Mission in Journalism:  to Serve the People. He himself engaged in yellow journalism as a method, see ://www.pbs.org/crucible/journalism.html/ but this was (or was not?) outweighed by his public service.

Serve and battle for the people. Read his mission statement in taking over The New York World in 1883: Joseph Pulitzer vowed he would make it a paper
"truly democratic... that will expose all fraud and sham; fight all public evils and abuses... that will serve and battle for the people with earnest sincerity." 
See Joseph Pulitzer at://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/pulitzer.htm

The Board was given broad discretion in how to award, and what.  The categories are not absolute. Music categories have been added, and online journalism. The Board is free to fashion its own awards, within the mission. Throughout, however, the prizes have been for excellence, as a stand-alone matter.  Whether or not others agree, or obstruct the effort, the work is assessed on its own.  The award provides an incentive to continue on the path; even if the work is not finished, "accomplished."  See excellence on the verge?  Excellent.

B.  Alfred Nobel and His Prizes, Including for Peace


Alfred Nobel (1833-1936) was an inventor, chemist and industrialist, researcher and innovator, Swedish by background. Among his inventions: a gelatine used in explosives. He also set up a system of prizes through his will, with a mission to award persons in a different field from journalism and letters.  He wanted to award those who make "remarkable achievements" in specific fields of knowledge (physics, physiology, chemistry, medicine), but also literature, and human relationships - peace.See ://www.nobelkepu.org.cn/english/100years/134172.shtml/  His own lifetime achievements?  He declared none.

That Nobel Prize site, Nobelkepu.org, is a rocky translation into English, but the more moving for its literalism in describing Alfred Nobel. He "left us lofty ideology of hardworking, looking down up material honors." He lived simply. He received many honors from other nations, but not for the dynamite. Instead, he got awards for incidentals like his cooking, or his accidental friendship with an official. Nobelkepu site.

The Nobel envisions an award for Achievement.  Achievement for purposes of the Nobel has always included advancements, insights, and innovations.  Look at the Nobel fields of knowledge, the sciences; and the creative field,  literature; and the elusive human relationship field, peace. Cancer is not yet cured; but advancements in understanding and treatment of it are rewarded, for example.  

C.  The Award of The Nobel Peace Prize Committee for 2009 to President Barack Obama.

C.1  The Nobel Committee's Stated Grounds.

Read the Nobel Committee's own standards and commentary about the nature of the achievement of Barack Obama in the cause of peace at ://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2009/press.html/.

The Committee awarded the prize to President Obama
  • "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples;" and 
  • for his "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons." 
  • for setting a "new climate" and 
  • for his "use of dialogue and negotiations" as instruments for resolving conflicts.
2.3.  Issue.

The issue many journalists raise is whether, since "peace" itself in no geographic area in which President Obama has worked has not been achieved, why give the award for a work in process, for uses of tools that may not ever succeed. They equate advancement and innovation, that has not yet brought about peace, as lack of "accomplishment."  Where is the achievement, they ask.

Advances and Innovation constitute Achievement in medicine and other fields of science.  Advances and innovation constitute achievement also in human and international relations.  Cure is not the test for an award in medicine.  Neither is actual peace in our time.  O Lord!

How long, etc.


Blend in excellence.  Excellence stands alone. Intrinsic. On its own merits. Excellence can be achieved despite the obstructionism of other elements. Or no goal reached, yet, or ever. Prematurity as a criticism requires that the original intent of those awarding the prize is an award for accomplished goals, not inspiration, not incentive, not advancements or innovations. Not so.


Obama the Candidate, XL Center, Hartford 2008. The Nobel Prize for Peace, for advancements and innovations in approach to conflict resolution, well awarded.
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The Nobel Peace Prize Committee for 2009 was correct in its award to Obama because they followed the mandate of Alfred Nobel.  They applied the standard of "remarkable achievement" to Obama's use of new tools in seeking peace (it can never be totally "achieved").   

How could the Nobel be only for "accomplishment"? Any boor can thwart progress. Just taint the test tube. Destroy the keys. Spin beyond ken. Don't show up. Elocute for an hour and a half when you are supposed to talk for 15 minutes. Say you will and then you don't.

It only takes one boor to block a road. Why elevate the boor for the blockage?  But the ideas carry on. For many recipients, implementation was delayed or never occurred.  And the Prize was appropriately awarded then and now.

II.  Which Journalists get the Pulitzer for coverage of the Nobel Peace Price Award to President Obama.


Will anyone win.  Which journalist follows the mandate of Joseph Pulitzer and his personal philosophy about merit in journalism. Which journalist dedicates himself or herself to expose fraud and sham, fight public evils and abuses, "serve and battle for the people with earnest sincerity." See ://www.journalism.columbia.edu/cs/ContentServer/jrn/1165270052298/JRN_News_C/1175295286785/JRNNewsDetail.htm/

What is excellence in journalism?
  • News. Present first, a neutral and thorough fact background.  Cite sources. If opinion is called for
  • Opinion. Reason through to an opinion stemming from those stated facts, that are made available to the reader; and lay out how and why they are weighted. Use the opinion pagel or, if the piece is investigative, label it so and then put the opinion in (also clearly labeled as such). 
  • no persuasion journalism (propaganda) by slipping in opinion by tilt of word in the facts, misstating or understating facts, or stage technique
  • no blurring news and opinion so viewers and readers are encouraged to mistake opinion for fact
  • opinion is not fact
Schools of Journalism have broad curricula, but so far persuasion journalism seems to be winning, see http://www.journalism.columbia.edu/cs/ContentServer/jrn/1212608967690/page/1212608967632/JRNSimplePage2.htm/.

Since its establishment in 1904, the Pulitzer Prize has been awarded as an incentive to excellence.  Incentive.  Incentive.  Encourage.  Cheer on.  See the site of the Prize people. And the areas.  Areas for recognition: See its site at The Pulitzer Prizes, History, at ://www.pulitzer.org/historyofprizes/.

This makes sense. How could there be "accomplishment" in eradicating corruption, fraud and exploitation. There can only be the battle for the accomplishment.  It is never done. There can be excellence in the presentation, but whether it "worked" is not the point.  And there is broad discretion in awarding the prize. Who to second-guess?

The Obama coverage?

There are no Pulitzers here.  We see opinions, disembodied from facts about the mandates of the Prizes, and churned and turned into media virus.  Persuasion journalism.  The new yellow journalism. See http://library.thinkquest.org/C0111500/spanamer/yellow.htm