irony of prizes

A quote by Anu of makes an interesting point about the history behind some of the cherished prizes of our society. I added links to relative sites.

“It’s ironic that Joseph Pulitzer, owner of a newspaper known for sensationalistic reporting during his lifetime, has provided the eponym behind the most respected journalism award in the US. But there are other examples of whitewashing with the passage of time and the institution of awards. Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite, is now better known for his Nobel Peace Prize. Who’s to say one day we’ll not have an annual Gates Prize for the company most admired for its fair business practices?” – Anu


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  1. Now that’s the truth !!

    Comment by Tammie on July 7, 2002 @ 12:15 am
  2. The irony in the Nobel example is a bit forced, I think. From what I know of him, he didn’t intend dynamite to be used as a weapon, but rather as an industrial tool. How far would the railroads have got if they hadn’t had a stable explosive to clear their path?

    I followed the link to the Pulitzer biography to find out more about him, and I was reminded of the movie Citizen Kane. After reading a bit farther, I discovered why — Pulizer was a contemporary of William Randolph Hearst and one of his primary competitors in the newspaper business. Kane was a caricature of Hearst, who was famous for ‘yellow journalism’ and fabrication of stories. Competition with Hearst was probably a major source of his own paper’s sensationalism, but after their attempts to whip up indignation in the populace resulted in a war with Spain, Pulitzer swore off ‘yellow journalism.’

    Both of these men, Nobel and Pulitzer, had their intentions in the right place and focused their work on the betterment of society. Although there is a little bit of irony in the fact that awards are named after them when their own lives demonstrated a few things contrary to the spirit of those awards, I think their positive achievements and influences on socity far outweigh the negative.

    Bill Gates has a lot of reforming to do before anyone will take an award in his name for fair business practices seriously. I don’t think it’s going to happen.

    Comment by Levi on July 7, 2002 @ 4:56 pm
  3. Alfred Nobel was a pacifist and worked towards world peace he Never ar any stage intended his ‘dynamite’ to be used for destructive purposes it was a progression from an invention which was discovered trying to create a safer way fro people to work instead of using Gun powder, so i belive it is not IRONIC that he is now remebered more because of the Nobel Peace prize he deserves to be remebered for his legacy.

    Comment by Gillian on October 7, 2004 @ 10:28 am

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