Commentary Pulitzer Winner, Unusual?

Long form essay takes the Commentary Pulitzer for 2020

Dana Canedy speaks at the 2019 SPJ region 4 conference in Cleveland, Ohio.
Dana Canedy speaks at the 2019 SPJ region 4 conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

In March of 2019 I had the pleasure of seeing Pulitzer Administrator Dana Canedy speak at the region 4 conference for the Society of Professional Journalists in Cleveland, Ohio. Her talk was inspiring and I tweeted a few quotes from her. Like this one:

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Fast forward to when the 2020 Pulitzers were announced. I remembered Ms. Canedy’s talk. Since I’m the Communications Director for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists I especially took interest in the Commentary Pulitzer winner.

Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary with her essay from the newspaper’s 1619 project “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.” This extraordinary essay not only stands out for its Pulitzer Prize quality but also for its unprecedented length. A single essay of more than 7,000 words has never won the Pulitzer Prize in the Commentary category. Traditionally, a columnist has won that category with a series of columns.  

I had to talk to Ms. Canedy and learn more about this Pulitzer selection. I was thrilled that she was gracious enough to talk with me and give me her insight about what I thought was an out-of-the-box pick for the Pulitzer. You can read our full Q&A at the link below.

If you like this article and want to read more insight on column-writing check out my articles and clips page you check out a few samples below.

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