The Huffington Post senior military correspondent David Wood’s ten-part series “Beyond the Battlefield,” which documents the lives of severely wounded combat veterans, has won the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting.
Wood’s win is the first Pulitzer for the AOL-owned Huffington Post, a self-described internet newspaper, and is significant in the award organization’s recognition of online-only news sources. The 7-year-old Huffington Post, which began mostly as a news aggregator with little original reporting, hired Wood in 2011, in its shift towards more original content. Rem Rieder, editor of the American Journalism Review, comments that it is “terrific that there are emerging newish outlets where not only talented young reporters, but experienced older reporters, have the chance to showcase ambitious work” – and the Pulitzer is proof of the emerging legitimacy of web-based journalism.
Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, states, “We are delighted and deeply honored by the award, which recognizes both David’s exemplary piece of purposeful journalism and HuffPost’s commitment to original reporting that affects both the national conversation and the lives of real people. From the beginning, one of the core pillars of HuffPost’s editorial philosophy has been to use narrative and storytelling to put flesh and blood on data and statistics, and to help bear witness to the struggles faced by millions of Americans. We are very grateful to have won for this series, the culmination of David Wood’s long career as a military correspondent, and an affirmation that great journalism is thriving on the Web.”
Wood, 66, got his start in journalism as an editor for the Pioneer Press in Illinois in 1970, and was previously a Pulitzer Prize finalist, covering wars spanning Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Central America since 1977, before his most recent coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan. Regarding his “Beyond the Battlefield” series, Wood commented that veterans “want to tell their story because they view their wounds as medals of honor, symbols of their sacrifice – They’re all connected and it’s really interesting, and I just feel so, so proud that they accepted me into their community and let me tell their stories,” adding that “telling their stories just became a huge mission of honor for me.”
The award of the Pulitzer is also indicative of the shift in how news media is produced, and Wood, who began his career in the realm of “old media,” states that he feels a “sense of energy” in the Huffington Post newsroom, and that he “never had as much support and encouragement and professional editing along the way,” while piecing together his series. Wood also names
Rieder adds, “I think it’s very healthy to see the Pulitzers have moved, albeit slowly, from a solely print focus – The world has changed dramatically. There’s an awful lot of exciting developments with digital news operations.” The prize certainly has done something for the legitimacy of the oft-derided Huffington Post.