It's Pulitzer Prize day once again.
For years, this was my favorite story to cover when I was at Editor & Publisher, the once proud bible of the newspaper industry.
After we were lucky enough to get leaked finalist names for several years, it became something of a guessing game to see how many were correct. Most of the time we were on top of it, until the Pulitzer folks got wise and put the clamps on the leaks.
Known by many as "The Cabal," the leaks were the work of a group of Pulitzer jurors, some members of these committees that actually filter through the thousands of Pulitzer entries and provide three finalists for the 17-member Pulitzer Board to consider.
For years the group, led in part by former Washington Post ombudsman and D.C. news veteran Deborah Howell -- among others -- would hit the phones after the finalists were chosen and a printed list would eventually evolve. It circulated and found its way to me back in 2004.
After determining it was valid, Editor Greg Mitchell and I posted it online at E&P and found it was correct once the announcements occurred. "The Cabal" and its leaks continued for several years, but later died out due to tighter controls and newer jurors not interested in spreading the word.
Still, it has become clear that the Pulitzer Board itself is known to advise friends and colleagues if a win is coming. Past editors and winners have told me how they were informed hours -- even days -- before the big announcement, in some cases even receiving champagne from the top brass at their papers ahead of time.
Last year, The New York Times accidently let the word out online when it prematurely advised that its winners would be discussing their prizes later in the day.
It is interesting that nine of the 17 Pulitzer Board members work for news organizations that likely have entries in the competition. The past practice has required that they leave the room when categories in which they were finalists are discussed and voted upon.
That has even extended to journalism and media companies that own many outlets. With so much consolidation, that can mean a lot these days.
For instance, Houston Chronicle Editor Nancy Barnes, a long-time respected editor, is on the board. But since her paper is owned by Hearst, which owns 24 daily papers and 25 U.S. magazines, she cannot be involved in the board deliberations if any of them are finalists.
The same goes for board member Aminda Marques Gonzalez, executive editor of The Miami Herald, whose owner is McClatchy, owner of more than two dozen daily papers. Those include the News & Observer of Raleigh, The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer and The Sacramento Bee.
The board, which met last week, then reads and decides what to award -- or not award. One of the beauties of the prizes is that the board has final say and can award prizes to winners who were not finalists, move entries around among the 14 journalism categories, give two awards in a category, or none.
With the leaks shutdown years ago, speculation is more difficult. but look for some Harvey Weinstein coverage to be in the running, along with Trump-related reporting and, hopefully, a handful of investigative issues.
The earlier Goldsmith Prize finalists often offer an insight. This year's nominees for that award ranged from addiction issues to Russia. Expect more of the same today.
Then there are always the little engines that could -- small papers that come out of nowhere to grab the prize and show size does not matter in these awards. Last year, the tiny Storm Lake Times in Iowa won for editorial writing with in-depth opinion on local agricultural issues.
It is that broad swath of contenders that make the awards that much more interesting, the fact that a small paper in Iowa competes against The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal -- and can sometimes win.
And let's not forget the non-journalism Pulitzers that are awarded in music, poetry, literature and drama.
With that, I will be tuning in at 3 p.m. today to the live announcements online and, as former Pulitzer Administrator Sig Gissler used to say, waiting for them to "change some lives forever."