by Connie Hebert
Did you feel that?
I'm certain the Earth shook last April 12, 2010, when Mark Fiore received his Pulitzer Prize.
Who's Mark Fiore and what makes his award Earth shaking?
A political cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle, Fiore received the prestigious award for his "self-syndicated, online" animated editorials.
Most of us have opinions, one way or another, about self-publishing/self-syndicating as well as online publications. Some excellent works have been introduced in this venue, but are writers (and readers) prejudiced against "vanity press," as they used to be called?
In awarding Fiore his prize, the Pulitzer Board clearly sanctioned online and independent publications. That's earth shaking. But is it a fluke?
I don't think so. Here's why.
One Spring day in the late 1980's, the Administration at the Veteran's Hospital in New Orleans made a fateful announcement: All future documentation will be done on computers.
Ironically, the announcement came via dinosaur--the paper printed office memo.
The hospital provided one computer per department. In Social Work, ours sat on a small desk about two feet away from the Chief. This is a fluke, I thought. Soon we'll be back to communicating on something we can hold in hand.
Eventually this did come true, but the hand-held device is called an iPod. Electronic mail (email) also made its advent on the techno-scene not long after. Another idea which will never stick, I thought.
Several months later, I was eating lunch with two young men in the hospital cafeteria. Before long our conversation turned to computers.
"I think they're here to stay," one said looking toward me with a "what-do-you-think-look" in his eyes. Believe it or not, the jury was still out regarding the clunky grey monsters.
I heard myself answer as though in a tunnel, "Oh, yeah. Definitely."
In that seminal moment, I realized I'd made a revolutionary shift which gave me pause. Wasn't it just a few months ago I swore on my backstage pass to the N.O. Jazz Fest that computers would "crash (pun intended) and burn?"
Last April Mark Fiore accepted his prize and a precedent was set. I, for one, am slow to bet against the staying power of this new trend. Let's not forget the humble hand-written letter (requiring a stamp), the roll-a-dex, and, yes, the antiquated paper memo.
What might the future hold? A Pulitzer for a self-published book? A Nobel Peace Prize for an online grassroots movement? Who knows? One thing we can always count on, though, the times, they are always a-changin.
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Connie Hebert, MSW, is the owner and author of her "True Inklings" website. Retired from a successful career in psychotherapy, education, and seminar training on human behavior, she now writes full-time. Her current work in progress is a nonfiction novel with the working title of "Converting the Maiden; a Memoir of Surrender." She's also published short pieces in trade magazines and in "The Shine Journal," an online publication.
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