PRIZES – What I’m Thinking About Today

1. It’s Tuesday, April 21, 2015. If this were January, it would be the third. April flies by. January drags.

2. As a Met fan, I needed yesterday off. The Mets have won eight straight, but two of their players were injured in their last win. There’s just a little too much drama for an old man to take.

3. More Americans are optimistic about the economy than aren’t. That might not sound like a big deal — in fact, it sounds the way it should be. But it’s the first time a CNN/ORC poll has found more economic half-fulls than half-empties since 2007.

And, as a result, it’s the first time in the presidency of Barack Obama that the economy is seen so brightly. It took more than six years, and got stalled too many times along the way by Republicans who refused to take ownership for the financial crisis they helped create.

I wouldn’t expect, or want, the president to do a victory lap. There are too many people who are still hurting from the slide precipitated by Wall Street greed and an unnecessary, unpaid-for war in Iraq.

But history will be a lot kinder to Mr. Obama than we have been, and this economic recovery that appears set to continue through the end of his White House tenure will be one reason why.

4. One of the nice things about the Pulitzer Prizes is that, for the most part, they are a reminder of the really good work journalists around this country do. The two awards I’m most interested in are those for Public Service and Local Reporting.

This year, the Public Service award went to the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. It did a powerful series on how South Carolina is the worst state for domestic violence inflicted on women by men. 

The Local Reporting award went to the Torrance Daily Breeze in California for a series on corruption in the Centinela Valley School District.  

The awards are a reminder that people who go into this profession are not in it for the money (trust me on that!). They’re in it because it’s a way to change the world.

5. One other Pulitzer I noted went to Carol D. Leonnig of The Washington Post for National Reporting. Her award was for coverage of the Secret Service’s recent problems. I knew the name looked familiar. Nearly eight years ago, she had the co-byline on a story that featured my brother, who was being thwarted in his bid for a non-political job at the Justice Department by a Bush administration official with a political agenda. I, of course, thought the story was right-on. So I’m happy for Ms. Leonnig (although my spellcheck doesn’t seem so pleased, because it keeps changing the name to Leaning).

6. Finally on the Pulitzers – awards are also given for the arts. I like to see who wins the Music award, and have purchased the music for iTunes on occasion. Music that wins the Pulitzer is usually experimental and edgy rather than toe-tapping — I guarantee that “Uptown Funk” wasn’t nominated. This year’s winner is Julia Wolfe for a piece called “Anthracite Fields.” I can’t find a recording on iTunes and Amazon, but the Pulitzer committee put up this YouTube video. I’m not questioning whether Ms. Wolfe deserves her award. But shouldn’t there be a recording that allows people to judge without having to stream a video. Also, I assume she’s writing music to make a living, but maybe I’m wrong.


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