Like a few others in the class, the Pulitzer prize winning work that I chose to read was Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?, which won for feature writing. And I have to say, it was one of the most powerful and moving pieces of journalism that I have ever read.
It wasn’t just the facts that made the story, it was the descriptions, the quotes, and the way the scene was painted. The heartache and the guilt dripped off of the words on the page, making it difficult to read but impossible to put down. The pain that these families have been through is excruciating, and the fact that it was brought to life in such an eloquent and heart-wrenching manner is definitely award-worthy. I was previously unaware of such an issue, and I’m glad that a story as thoroughly researched and brilliantly written as this was able to bring it to light.
by Taylor Benson
The New York Times won the Pulitzer for National Reporting for its series called Driven to Distraction. This series has over two dozen articles spanning from mid-July 2009 to mid-March 2010. Most of the articles deal with how distracting cell phones can be to drivers, but some articles describe what effect cell phones have on pedestrians, and how other electronics effect people. The articles are mostly long and in depth, taking the issue from different angles and even going back to the 1960’s when the first car phone was invented.
The articles cover many different angles. One talks about computers in car dashboards. Another talks about the use of computers, radios, navigation systems, and cell phones in emergency vehicles. Yet another talks about cab drivers using their cell phones while driving despite a ban over a decade ago. One of the articles talks about the dangers technologic billboards pose to drivers.
The articles were written by the New York Times, so there is going to be a lot more text than multimedia, but it still incorporated a fair amount of pictures, audio, video, and even a few games.
The entire package can be seen here
The Deadly Choices at Memorial
The use of multimedia tools helped tell the story of the tragedy at Memorial Hospital in a way that writing alone could not. The combination of extensive video, time lines and pictures helped paint a vivid picture of disaster.
The schematic of the hospital was a brilliant touch. It’s deceptively simple, and it probably wasn’t even particularly difficult to obtain the layouts, but it enables the reader to imagine themselves in the story and makes it that much more real to someone who wasn’t there.
The attention to detail is also engrossing. Nothing seems to have been overlooked – “the dark pool of water rimmed with garbage crawling up South Claiborne Avenue in the direction of the hospital” probably came from an off-handed comment during an interview, but its inclusion helps create an ominous feeling.
I especially responded to the time line. There was something particularly stark about it that made the story stand out. Perhaps it’s the ability to see at a glance that this story lasts six days; as you read the sad story on days one and two, you already know that the trauma isn’t anywhere near to being over.
This presentation is a great example of the power of multimedia, and the Pulitzer Prize seems fitting.
– Laura Riess