We’re finally getting an alternative to the Pulitzer Prize, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Dao Prize, an annual award that aims to showcase and support investigative journalism, is the result of a partnership between two conservative organizations: the National Journalism Center, created by the Young America’s Foundation, and the Dao Feng & Angela Foundation, a philanthropic grantmaker dedicated to “preserving conservative roots” and “universal values.”
The Dao Prize couldn’t have arrived at a better time, given the state of Pulitzer Prize nominees, finalists, and winners over the past decade.
Emily Jashinsky, director of YAF’s National Journalism Center, described the current incentive structure in media as “broken” in a post on X, formerly Twitter:
“Reporters who do amazing work are attacked. Reporters who do garbage work are given Pulitzers. The carrots and sticks are all mixed up. But we can fix that.”
She’s not wrong. It’s now more profitable for a journalist to write libelous drivel going after conservatives than to report factually.
The Pulitzer Prize, which used to be awarded based on stellar investigatory reporting that exposed fraudulent mayoral elections, medical malpractice, and the corruption of toxic Chinese imports, now celebrates The New York Times’ censorious coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pulitzer has fallen from celebrating accurate journalism to refusing to rescind awards given to egregious reporting by The New York Times and The Washington Post. The newspapers’ reporting falsely accused the Trump administration of colluding with Russia in the 2016 election, despite overwhelming evidence and Federal Election Commision fines for both Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee over the allegations.
What an incentive structure for the next generation of journalists! Why investigate serious issues and expose corruption, cover-ups, and abuses of power when it’s just as easy to write an unfounded hit piece accusing New York City’s Jewish schools of maleducation and malfeasance?
Forensic bombshells such as the New York Post’s reports on the Hunter Biden corruption and bribery scandal are ignored by the Pulitzer committee while pieces such as Times reporter Brian Rosenthal’s slander of Orthodox Jewish yeshivas gets an immediate nomination.
“Journalists who put narratives over facts get prestigious trophies,” Jashinsky told The Daily Signal, so “it’s all too easy for reporters to get sucked into this cycle, lured by prestige, recognition, and money.”
The National Journalism Center, founded in 1977, seeks to correct this dramatic misalignment in incentives by prioritizing a return to foundational investigative principles.
A press release from YAF lists “accuracy and courage” as the two primary values judged in considering journalists’ work for the prize. The Dao Award committee certainly has its work cut out for it—2023 has seen an incredible bevy of investigative work.
Like the Pulitzer, the Dao Award may be given to an individual journalist or a publication. Jashinsky listed Emma-Jo Morris of Brietbart News, Miranda Devine of the New York Post, Aaron Sibarium of The Washington Free Beacon, and the “Twitter Files” team, which includes Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and Michael Shellenberger, as some of the candidates up for consideration.
The prize is set to be awarded Wednesday night at a gala in Washington, D.C., and also will be livestreamed on the Young America’s Foundation YouTube channel. The winning journalist or publication will receive $100,000 along with the prize, and two finalists will get $10,000.
At a time when institutions we’ve relied on for decades have failed us in monumental fashion, conservatives, centrists, and independents have a responsibility to set up new organizations and awards that praise proper standards.
I look forward to the Dao Award’s impact on investigative journalism as the nation continues to abandon the rotting remains of a legacy media system too wretchedly narcissistic to reform.
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