The Los Angeles Times staff on Monday won a Pulitzer Prize for its deep and voluminous coverage of the San Bernardino terrorist shootings and aftermath. Always a big happy day in a newsroom when a Pulitzer is awarded — there's some video of the celebration at my earlier post.
A newspaper should brag about winning a Pulitzer, even though it's just a journalism award mostly of interest to other journalists and their friends. On the LAT website, though, the Times obviously considers its latest Pulitzer a very big thing for its readers. The entire first screen of the website was devoted to Pulitzer news well into the night. At the new LA Times, by inference, its Pulitzer was the biggest story in Los Angles and the world.
Now look how the Washington Post handled the same news — actually the Post had more to crow about, winning two Pulitzers on Monday. On its website, real news still got the most prominent real estate, and the inside baseball story about the Post's latest Pulitzers played down below a bit.
The LA Times does this on a lot of big stories, including pop culture events like the Oscars and even lesser Hollywood moments like the Golden Globes. Devote the entire top of the website to a flood of stories on one subject that is presumably getting a lot of clicks that minute, and let the readers who don't care about the trending topic or who want a more curated and diverse news report go find it elsewhere.
I tend to think the practice tarnishes the Times' brand as a news provider — readers get a better, quicker read on the news by going to almost any other news website at those moments — and smacks of over-valuing clicks. If it was the smart move, you could argue that the newspaper websites widely considered better and more successful than the LAT would embrace the same tactic. But they seldom adopt the Times' approach of putting all its home page reader eggs in one basket, and when they do it's because of a monumental news story that readers expect to see played huge. So I'm not a fan of the practice, but I'd like to hear a good discussion of the pros and cons for a big-city 24/7 news website.