As the deadline for this year’s 25 Under 35 neared, I watched nomination after nomination flood my inbox. I wasn’t complaining; I was enjoying reading about the young newspaper professionals making a difference in the industry. It was exciting to see the creative work being done at publications around the country in different markets. In the end, we received more than 130 nominations—all of them impressive and encouraging. But we could only pick 25, and it wasn’t an easy task.
The general consensus among the men and women on our list seemed to be that there’s no better time to be working in journalism. That may sound like a cliché to many of us, but when you read their reasons why, you’ll understand—because now’s the best time to embrace change and innovation, take risks and face challenges, and learn new skills and traits. If these young professionals are making these kinds of significant impacts now at their age, imagine what the industry will look like in 10 or 20 more years if they continue with this same kind of confidence?
I also sensed a theme from many of their older peers who sent in nominations. I realize they took a few moments out of their busy routine (many of them publishers, presidents, and vice presidents) to put together a write-up acknowledging the talents of their younger colleagues. It shows me that even though these supervisors and managers have to deal with smaller newsrooms and declining resources, they still believe in the future of this industry.
I write this editorial after “Spotlight,” the movie about the Boston Globe’s investigative reporting on the sexual abuse by priests, won the Oscar for Best Picture. When the actors, producers and director got on stage to pick up the statue, I’m sure every journalist watching felt like they were standing on that stage with them.
Martin Baron, who was editor of the Globe at the time and is now executive editor of the Washington Post, wrote (wapo.st/24oYUik), “Journalists worldwide have now seen the movie, and they’ve reacted the same: This movie is stunningly accurate in how it portrays the practice of journalism, investigative reporting in particular.”
It’s easy to reminisce about the days of journalism depicted in “Spotlight” (which took place in 2001 and 2002), and some of us even still reminisce about the days depicted in “All the President’s Men,” the 1976 film about Washington Post journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward and their investigative work into the Watergate scandal more than 40 years ago. Maybe what we’re really recalling are simpler times, when print was king, and there was no Facebook or Twitter, no Craigslist or iPads—just good ol’ fashion journalism.
But what does good ol’ fashion journalism even mean? It’s storytelling. It’s relationships. It’s audience. It’s community. All of those factors are happening right now in journalism. The good ol’ days aren’t gone; the good ol’ days are still here.
So, in addition to recognizing the next generation of newspaper leaders in this issue, we also recognize how long-form journalism has moved beyond the printed page. Again, content still reigns like it did in 2001 and like it did in 1972. The only difference is content is being consumed by more people on more platforms. We also spoke with past Pulitzer Prize winners and Mike Pride, Pulitzer Prize administrator, about the centennial anniversary of the awards. This year’s winners will be announced April 18, and perhaps one of them will be a digital news site. If so, let’s congratulate them for creating good ol’ fashion journalism.