I never considered my work on par with highly trained professionals: I have no photography or journalism training, and the competition is fierce, smart, and any year there are tens of thousands of potential contenders for these awards. Maybe hundreds of thousands for all I know. Many work for top publications and their work is seen by millions of people by virtue of circulation statistics and the power of syndication. Professional journalists, laboring with top editors, all with fully equipped –and staffed–offices, access to the world, and expense accounts to get into the field, have a clear advantage over independent writers and photographers. My office has often been a tent, and my only company has often been a field mouse or a squirrel.
There is also a Pulitzer proviso that requires any material, written or photographic, submitted for consideration, to include documentation that it was published in a U.S. newspaper during the previous calendar year. That leaves most of the work of bloggers out of consideration. The odds of being nominated were long.
Despite the odds being what they are, there are three Pulitzer submissions for my 2005 work. Two are in photography, and one for my writing. Please keep in mind that a submission is not a nomination. That designation is reserved for the two or three works in each category (out of potentially thousands of submissions) that the jury panels select as most distinguished examples of writing or photography published in the preceding year. From these select pools of nominations, the Pulitzer Board makes the ultimate determination of the finalist. I am humbled by the prospect of having my work considered among such worthy competition. I’ve met several recipients of Pulitzer Prizes, and I have learned from each of them. I may not have had much training but I do have a competitive spirit, so I humbly hope to beat the competition.
To learn more about the Pulitzer Prize, its history, and guidelines, please visit: http://www.pulitzer.org/
To see a slide show of those photographs of mine that were included in one of the submissions, please click here.