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Pulitzer Prizes Announced

Lost in the melee after the Boston Marathon was the announcement of the Pulitzer Prize winners. Congratulations to them all. I am especially interested in picking up a copy of the poetry winner, Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds. Olds wrote most of the poems in this volume shortly after her divorce in 1997, but delayed publishing them for more than a decade out of consideration for her family, who she felt needed time to adjust to the new post-matrimonial reality.

Although I am a fan of the New York Times, I am troubled that the Times won four awards. With the Wall Street Journal's one and another for the Washington Post, big Eastern papers took 6 of the 14 categories. Time was the newspaper business was robust and competitive; today there are only a few big papers that can compete with the NYT, fewer and fewer each day. One newspaper shouldn't dominate the Pulitzers, any more than one country should take all the Olympic gold medals.

The newspaper business seems to be going the way of most big business, with all the talent and money collecting in the hands of a few dominating entities, the rest to be had by the dogs. Besides a growing gap between the rich and the poor in this nation, are we seeing a gap opening between the "papers of record" and the local rags?

Look at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which 7 years ago won two Pulitzers of its own for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Since then it has been sold to a holding company named Advance Publishing, which proceeded to cut publication back to only three times a week and lay off half of the newsroom staff, all in the name of bigger profits. The resulting paper is a piece of trash that doesn't deserve to be hung in Sharon Olds's outhouse.

Such is the state of newspapers in this country, which in my view are the foundation of the literary life here. Or at least used to be.

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