Pulitzer Prize for telling the “same old story”

In the stories included in the 2011 Pulitzer Prizes that were announced today, we see an interesting celebration of local journalism that is supposed to have revealed the “silent voices” that influence urban crime. The stories and multimedia produced by journalists in the Chicago Sun-Times were similar to what we see from any kind of news reporting on crime — stories of daring cops, violent minorities, and urban environments that somehow breed violence.

While as a reporter, the writings, images, and sounds of these stories are deserving of a Pulitzer. Indeed, the Sun-Times itself should be lauded for their reporting and their competition against the great Tribune. However, it is troubling that journalism in general does nothing more than celebrate the reporting of the same old story without embedding themselves in the troubles that create the crime.

Should journalists be “embedded” with gangs, in homeless shelters, in the gritty environment of the city? Why not? They are “embedded” with politicians, police, and other social institutions — including Wall Street. It is time to see reporting that does not condone violence, but attempts to understand the complexities that create it.