Yesterday, the Denver Post's Craig F. Walker won the feature photography Pulitzer Prize for the second time in three years -- a remarkable achievement, and quite possibly an unprecedented one. The award is not only an acknowledgment of Walker's moving shots of Scott Ostrom, an Iraq vet who returned to the states with a severe case of PTSD, but also the kind of work that newspapers do best.
As Walker notes in a Post video included below, he spent around a year on the Ostrom project. Few traditional media outlets have the resources to let a staffer -- even one as gifted as Walker -- focus on a single story for so long. But the Ostrom images illustrate the potential payoff. The time, the effort and the obvious trust that developed between Walker and his subject result in an achievement that's far more moving and meaningful than if the entire enterprise had wrapped in a single afternoon.
As we know, even the Post, which has long had the largest newsroom in Colorado, is facing tight times. Note that its 2011 Pulitzer winner, cartoonist Mike Keefe, is no longer at the paper, having taken a buyout this past November along with eighteen others amid rumors that layoffs could be in the offing. And sure enough, popular columnists Mike Littwin and Penny Parker were among those let go last month even as the editorial hole was narrowed by as much as eighteen pages per week.
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But there's still hope. This past Friday, I was a panelist at a Society of Professional Journalists conference along with Kurtis Lee, among the brightest young talents at the paper, and one who boasts precisely the sort of skill set necessary to survive in the modern media world. He reports. He blogs. He writes for the print edition. He takes photographs. He shoots video. And he does it all with the sort of energy that newspapers will need if they're to survive the transition from an antiquated delivery system to a brave new digital world.
Will such an environment provide career sustenance to both the Walkers and the Lees? There's no guarantee. But if it doesn't, we'll be less for it. Here's the aforementioned Post video.
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More from our Media archive: "Penny Parker, Mike Littwin layoffs linked to YourHub changes at Post."