The Crestone Eagle, April 2006:

‘The Crestone Eagle’ nominated for Pulitzer Prize for Journalism
In small community newspaper category

by Mary Lowers

The Crestone Eagle staff was astonished to learn this month that they were in the running for one of the prestigious Pulitzer Prizes for Journalism. The well known award sets the standard of excellence in the field.

The Pulitzer Prize Board, based at Columbia University, sent a letter to The Crestone Eagle stating that they had been nominated for a gold medal for “Excellence in Newspaper Work” in the category which states “For a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper through the use of its journalistic resources which, as well as reporting, may include editorials, cartoons, photographs, graphics and online material.”

The Crestone Eagle falls into the category of “monthly publications having a circulation of less than 25,000.” Monthly newspapers had been excluded from prize consideration until 2004 when the prize committee decided to enlarge its award criteria to include newspapers that “uniquely serve the needs of small towns.”

The Crestone Eagle is one of 10 finalists in its category. The final balloting is done April 1 and the awards will be presented at a modest ceremony to be held in May at Columbia University.

“I am truly amazed” said publisher Kizzen Laki. “Even if we don’t win, just being nominated is such an honor. It speaks very highly of our community and the quality of writers and photographers who contribute to the Eagle, and to the great staff. I guess hard work really does get some recognition. The staff has been on cloud nine since we’ve gotten the letter, and it’s been hard to keep it a secret so as not to blow our own front page story!”

The Eagle was submitted to the prize committee by Baca summer resident Seymore Toppling, a former prize committee member and retired New York Times managing editor. “He asked me last summer if he could submit the Eagle for Pulitzer Prize consideration” says Kizzen “I laughed and said ‘sure’ and thought he was just kidding. Apparently he wasn’t.”

The Pulitzer Prize is named after Joseph Pulitzer who was a passionate 19th newspaper publisher. In his will he made provisions to create awards for excellence, and the founding of the Pulitzer Prize Board occurred in 1917. Each year in April they give awards for excellence in the fields of literature, journalism, poetry, music, art, drama and photography. Unlike the Nobel Prize, cash awards are modest.

“This is like a dream come true” adds Kizzen “I hope all of our readers will send their prayers and good wishes to make it come true. We will really need them, because really, it’s just another one of our April Fool’s fantasies. The Pulitzer Prize Board does not give awards to monthly newspapers—but if they did, don’t you think we would be good enough to get one?” One again, thank you for all of your support.