This year’s Pulitzer Prizes were recently awarded and the Washington Post made off with a whopping six. Among that half-dozen was “Pearls Before Breakfast,” a feature by Gene Weingarten.
The story premise, in my opinion, is what makes the piece so remarkable. Weingarten convinced world-class violinist Joshua Bell to pose as a street musician at a subway station in Washington D.C. The result was fascinating. More than a thousand indifferent commuters walked by, most distracted with their morning rush to work, or talking on their cell phones. This violinist, arguably one of the best in the nation, earned about $32 during his 43-minute performance.
Adding to the brilliance of this piece, the folks at the Washington Post secretly videotaped the whole thing. So you can read the full story and watch a video of the actual performance on the Washington Post’s website.
During a National Public Radio interview this week, Weingarten said the point of the story was not to expose the people in Washington D.C. as being “unsophisticated boobs”–but to prove a larger point: “We’re in too much of a hurry. There’s something wrong with our priorities if we cannot be wakened out of the stupor of a morning rush hour by something we are never likely to see again.”
No doubt, that kind of innovative reporting is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize–and that kind of insight is certainly worthy of some deeper reflection.