The Pulitzer Prizes were awarded yesterday and the journalism crowd was happily reminded of its own significance.
“The Pulitzer,” says the poet Von Humboldt Fleisher in Saul Bellow’s (Pulitzer Prize-winning) novel, Humboldt’s Gift, in a more piquant reminder of our profession’s historic stature, “is for the birds. For the pullets. It’s just a dummy newspaper publicity award given by crooks and illiterates.”
Journalism used to be a humble, relatively crap-arse profession in awe of novelists and real men of letters. Journalists—once known as reporters—were second-tier types, who dreamt, nearly always futilely, of graduating to the higher plane.
Then novelists and men of letters got put out of business or retreated to universities and non-fiction became the coin of the literary realm. What’s more, Watergate came along and suddenly the news business was filled with Ivy Leaguers and an elevated sense of its own mission.
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