The Internet: a source for memes, cat videos and trends on Tumblr that make any workday fly by faster. Now: a credible source for Pulitzer Prize winning content thanks to Huffington Post and Politico.

Since Politico has a print component, let’s focus on Huffington Post, an online-only news and blog site, and what their award win earlier this week signifies.

Huffington Post winning a Pulitzer Prize may be a surprise to the more traditional print media, but to the abundance of readers that access the site daily, it makes perfect sense. In a time when traditional print media is battling whether to keep their online counterpart free or pay-per-view, Huffington Post sources its content from the world around it—at no cost to the reader. There are hardly any limitations to what one can find on the online site, which adds Huffington’s popularity, and naysayers. Yet this interesting formula of sourced content opens up the possibility for journalists and bloggers to explore stories without any red-tape.

The quality of reporter David Wood’s series legitimizes Huffington Post as an online-only publication with content that competes with established news entities, possibly opening the door for other online sources and the blogosphere to one day have their work recognized in a special Pulitzer category.

Still, it’s important to remember that Huffington Post considers itself an online news source and has a team of editors, fact checkers and reporters. With naysayers casting negative judgement on their content aggregation practices, it’s easy to forget the details behind the operation. David Wood’s piece was awarded for it’s high-caliber reporting. It was not aggregated from other sources. It was a 10-part series; when was the last time we saw that in print, much less online-only?

As always, the biggest challenge for any news source that’s online-based continues to be establishing legitimacy and credibility, both of which traditional print publications typically have by default. There’s a trust, built over decades, between readers and newspapers that the information being shared has been fact checked and the reporting is thorough. It’s much harder to prove on the Internet. But Huffington Post has set a new standard.

Ariana Huffington said it best: Winning this prize  “shows that singular, vibrant reporting can thrive on the Web, and indeed be enhanced by it.” She also called the honor “great for people over 50. David Wood is 66…It’s never too late.”

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