The Pulitzer Prizes Don’t Matter

But you can bet they’ll be on the front page tomorrow.

The Pulitzer Board announced its 2006 journalism awards today, and you can already read all about it on the Web sites of the Washington Post (four prizes!) and the New York Times (three!).

But does the Pulitzer matter? Two years ago, Jack Shafer argued no. The only reason for their prestige is that the biggest newspapers in the country stand to gain so much by giving them excellent coverage. They don’t even honor the best in journalism, he explained: “There’s no real science or even fairness behind the picking of winners and losers, with the prizes handed out according to a formula composed of one part log-rolling, two parts merit, three parts ‘we owe him one,’ and four parts random distribution.”