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Will Washington Post Get the Last Word on the Pulitzer No-Prize? Probably Not

Ruben Bolling was at his daughter’s high school graduation ceremony in Manhattan when he got word. Out in Santa Fe, Marty Two Bulls Sr. was driving to get coffee when his Instagram alerts poured in. And in Southern California, Lalo Alcaraz was preparing for a Zoom meeting at his Hollywood job when he got a cryptic text: “You got robbed.”

All three men are editorial cartoonists, and on Friday, all three were announced as Pulitzer Prize finalists — Alcaraz and Bolling for the second time in their careers. They all had gratitude for the recognition, yet they were also bewildered: Just who was the winner in their category?

Seeing the tweet from the Pulitzer account only stoked their confusion. It read: “No prize was awarded in Editorial Cartooning.”

Michael Cavna, for The Washington Post, talks to Lalo Alcaraz, Ruben Bolling (Ken Fisher), and Marty Two Bulls about there being no finality to this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning.

… Then came clarification. The five-person jury for the category picked the finalists but the larger Pulitzer Prize Board, which selects the winners for all the prizes in journalism and the arts, did not do so for cartooning because no consensus pick emerged. That happens every so often in various categories, but this was the first time in nearly a half-century that it had happened to political artists.

The decision sparked a flurry of questions and comments on social media, followed by pointed criticism from cartooning outlets and organizations. Common responses amid the backlash were “disappointed,” “insulted” and “wrong” — and frustrated a community within journalism that has often felt imperiled, downgraded and disrespected in recent decades.

Read Michael Cavna’s report and interviews with the finalists and other cartoonists. Or via MSN.

The finalists do appreciate the broader awareness of their work that Pulitzer recognition can bring.

Two Bulls says he plans to mention it in his advertising. And Alcaraz says he still basks in the uplift of being a Pulitzer finalist again: “I’m not going to tattoo it on my forehead, but I am going to talk about it all the time.”

 

Marty Two Bulls Sr. was out getting coffee when he was named a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning.

“They don’t tell you [you’re a finalist] beforehand…my Twitter exploded and I wasn’t sure what was going on. It was a really nice surprise,” Two Bulls, who is from Pine Ridge, told the Journal on Monday.

Marty Two Bulls also talked to the Rapid City Journal.

 

For the first time in 48 years, the Pulitzer Prize Board chose not to name a winner in Editorial Cartooning — a decision some are calling an insult to all cartoonists.

Poynter, too, covered the Pulitzer non-award today.

Both Alcaraz and Bolling hope the board addresses the issue before next year. Though Alcaraz said he plans on submitting his work for consideration again in the future, Bolling said he is unsure.

“I think that if I could ever get a statement that the Pulitzer Board will never give me the prize, I think that was made clear this year,” said Bolling, who was also a finalist in 2019. “They would rather throw it in the garbage … than give me the award or any of my colleagues.”

 

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