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Monday, April 14, 2014

The Oregonian, Amid Huge Shifts, Wins Another Pulitzer

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 12:35 PM

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  • pulitzer.org

Plenty of people have taken issue with The Oregonian's editorials of late (not leastly Commissioner Steve Novick), but the Pulitzer Prize board is apparently not one.

The O just won its latest Pulitzer in the editorial writing category. Here's what the board had to say:

Awarded to the Editorial Staff of The Oregonian, Portland, for its lucid editorials that explain the urgent but complex issue of rising pension costs, notably engaging readers and driving home the link between necessary solutions and their impact on everyday lives.

The works that earned The O its eighth Pulitzer: 10 editorials, from January to July, that weighed in on the fraught debate over public pension reform in Oregon.

It's an interesting time for the paper to bring the prize home. For one, the editorial board has been increasingly conservative in recent years, a shift often tied to Publisher N. Christian Anderson III's tenure atop the company (Anderson moved to The Oregonian from the Orange County Register in southern California). Its stances have drawn ire of newsmakers like Novick, who in a January blog post lashed out at the editorial board's criticisms of city hall.

"We're the best City Council in the league. And we're not going to be bullied by some sorry Orange County right-wing publisher. We'll be here after you're gone, Mr. N. Christian Anderson III - after the Newhouse family wakes up and realizes that it's economic idiocy to try to foist a Fox News paper on a progressive readership."

(The Mercury has occasionally taken exception to the paper's stances, as well.)

But the fresh prize also comes as the paper's staff has coped with immense change. In October, The Oregonian announced a tectonic organizational shift and, with it, sizable layoffs. More recently, the company instituted a quota system, tying reporters' evaluations partly to frequency of online postings. ("In the more-with-less annals of corporate mandates, this one is a doozy," New York Times columnist David Carr wrote of the system.)

For all that, the Oregonian's reporters still put out a lot of quality work. But it's also worth noting the editorials for which the paper was honored today all were written before those big shifts.

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