Nearly any journalist can be a Pulitzer “nominee” for journalism. All somebody has to do is fill out a form, submit a few of the “nominee’s” articles, and write a $50 check to Columbia University/Pulitzer Prizes. ...
Editors do this all the time for their writers, but you don’t have to be an editor to nominate someone: anybody can do it.
And the thing is, the Pulitzer organization does not recognize the category of “nominee” for those who get nominated this way—it recognizes the category of “nominated finalist,” those three individuals whose submissions make the cut and get considered for the Pulitzer Prize itself. The Pulitzer organization, in fact, discourages the use of the term “nominee,” presumably because any newspaper or news site journalist who has a friend with fifty bucks can be a nominee.
Clearly, things are not always as they seem.