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Sunday, April 4, 2021

Eliminate Prizes For Journalism

     Should journalism receive prizes? For several reasons, I think not.

     One is that prizes distract from journalism's real mission, which is to write for readers. Prizes lure writers and editors into focusing too often on winning the admiration of colleagues who are their judges. And to do so, since journalism has become an increasingly credentialed and elite profession, they write articles of lugubrious length and academic tortuousness, often of little interest to those who are, ostensibly, their customers.

     And then, there is the corruption of the whole process which has, according to jurors who have participated, less to do with merit or distinction and more to do with honoring writers and articles, who in their persons, subject matter, or conclusions endorse left-liberal intellectual fashions...

     Finally, prizes are admission tickets to an elite membership of which mitigates against what journalists should be. The great English columnist, Bernard Levin, once wrote in The Times (of London) that he disapproved of senior editors and writers on Fleet Street receiving knighthoods in the Queen's birthday honors list, for it made them literally part of the establishment.

     Prizes do the same thing, making journalists participants and members of the body that they are, above all, supposed to scrutinize. Journalists should be observers, not participants--outsiders, not insiders. Prizes get in the way.

Hugo Gurdon, "The Damage Done by Journalism Prizes," Washington Examiner, May 6, 2020

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