A plague of biblical dimensions. The rise of a movement that gloried in the murder of civilians, journalists and aid workers. A series of tragic police encounters, in the second term of America’s first black president, that undermined our faith in progress toward racial justice.
2014 was a difficult year, for the world and for journalism. Coverage of Ebola and Ferguson often featured more heat than light. A reporting fiasco at Rolling Stone undermined the case for action against sexual crimes. The New Republic’s implosion showed that a billionaire owner is no guarantee of success.
In the midst of turbulence the Pulitzer Center stuck to the mission set forth by Joseph Pulitzer III decades ago—“to illuminate dark places and, with a deep sense of responsibility, interpret these troubled times.” Our journalists produced 385 stories for 130 outlets—using new media, visual data, powerful images and old-fashioned storytelling to reach increasingly diverse audiences.
We commissioned more reporting than ever, on topics ranging from the rise of the Islamic State and lessons learned from the Ebola crisis to climate change and the role of religion in public policy. We rejoiced in the release by Somali pirates of Pulitzer Center journalist grantee Michael Scott Moore, after two years and eight months of captivity.
Our education initiatives continued to grow, reaching thousands of students through nearly 500 engagements. Student fellows from partner universities in our Campus Consortium reported from 16 countries, on issues ranging from Syrian refugees to hydropower in India and healthcare in Kenya.
What follows are the highlights of distinguished reporting, compelling documentaries, multi-platform collaborations, and educational innovation. We are grateful to our donors, to our news-media partners, and to the educators who help make our journalism classroom-ready.
We don’t know what crises and challenges 2015 will bring. We do know that good reporting—produced to the highest standards and presented so as to capture the attention of an engaged public—is an essential part of meeting whatever those challenges might be.
We look forward to working with you in the months to come.
Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Board Chair
Jon Sawyer, Executive Director
In 2014 we placed 385 stories in over 130 media outlets. Some of the highlights:
- James Harkin's feature story in Harper’s looks at how ISIS, an organization so violently extreme that it was expelled from Al Qaeda, has transformed into something resembling an actual state with its own territory—and now at war with the United States.
- The area around Kenya’s Lake Turkana is believed to be the birthplace of humankind. It is also one of the poorest regions of the world. In a cover story for the international editions of Newsweek and a separate e-book Exploiting Turkana: Robbing the Cradle of Mankind. Jessica Hatcher and Guillaume Bonn take a deep look into how the discovery of oil in Turkana could further undermine one of the planet’s most significant archaeological sites.
- Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake is one of the most productive freshwater ecosystems in the world. Chris Berdik and Steve Sapienza’s multimedia series that featured in the Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times science section and the PBS NewsHour explored how overfishing, climate change and plans to build a hydropower dams could destroy this remarkable resource.
- On the second anniversary of South Africa’s Marikana massacre, Jason Larkin’s photo essay in The New Yorker and feature stories by Jack Shenker in Foreign Policy and The Guardian’s weekend magazine probed beneath the surface of the incident that left 34 striking miners dead and shattered many illusions about the new ruling class of post-apartheid South Africa.
- A violent revolution in Kiev followed by a Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s brazen land grab in Crimea made headlines in 2014. Journalist Dimiter Kenarov and photographer Boryana Katsarova documented the gravest threat to peace in Europe since the end of the Cold War for The Atlantic, The Nation and Foreign Policy.
- Drone warfare—cheap, easy and deadly—is likely to write the next chapter of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yochi Dreazen’s feature article for The New Republic reports that Israel already boasts one of the most extensive and sophisticated drone fleets in the world while its most persistent adversary, Hezbollah, is rapidly building up a drone capacity of its own, thanks entirely to its principal patron, Iran.
- More than 1,100 Bangladeshi garment workers lost their lives when the eight-story Rana Plaza factory collapsed in April 2013. Jason Motlagh’s meticulously reported reconstruction of the disaster was featured in the spring issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review, with companion pieces in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and on the PBS NewsHour and CBC Radio.
- Afghanistan has been America’s longest war. A multi-part series in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Meg Jones and Meghan Dhaliwal and a feature story and photo essay in Foreign Policy look at the not-so-simple business of packing up and going home.
Feature: Lux Leaks
This year we funded 84 reporting projects by professional journalists. These projects were featured across a wide range of platforms and publications and often represented unique and highly productive collaborations between our grantees and multiple media outlets. A few highlights:
- Carl Gierstorfer’s ground-breaking documentary traces the origins of the HIV/AIDS epidemic to Belgium’s brutal colonial occupation of the Congo in the early 20th century. It premiered in the U.S. on the Smithsonian Channel and in France and Germany on the Arte network. It was broadcast across additional stations in Europe.
- The Chinese government, facing enormous environmental challenges, is increasingly turning to religious traditions that under Communism had long been suppressed. In a multi-faceted project, Pulitzer Center grantees from North America and China have produced a growing body of work—documentary film, photography and feature stories—that explore this theme. The work has appeared on the PBS NewsHour and in Yale Environment 360 and ChinaFile.
- Award-winning journalist and author Roger Thurow tells the story of 1,000 days—the vital period from the beginning of a woman's pregnancy to her child's second birthday. What happens during this period in terms of health and nutrition determines the fate not only of individuals, but also of entire nations. Thurow follows the critical journey of mothers and their children in Uganda, India, Guatemala and Chicago’s Southside.
- A year-long look at Kurdistan by journalist Jenna Krajeski and photographer Sebastian Meyer took an unexpected turn when what was once an unlikely haven of stability and property in the Middle East turned into a battleground for the Islamic State. Their frontline work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Harper’s, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation and elsewhere.
Feature: Cholera Map
Ana Santos: 2014 Persephone Miel Fellow
The Persephone Miel Fellowship funds the work of one journalist each year from a developing country, with the aim of bringing that work to an international audience.
Ana Santos of the Philippines, the 2014 Miel fellow, is an outstanding example of how transformative this fellowship can be.
Ana’s project “Who Takes Care of Nanny’s Children?” focuses on the vast legion of women from the Philippines who work overseas. What happens to them—and to the families they leave behind—after years of separation? Her multimedia reports and short documentaries have appeared on the popular Philippines website Rappler and in The Washington Post.
Ana’s three-week U.S. tour took her to Chicago, Washington, D.C., and points in between—Elon, NC, Pittsburgh, PA, and New York City— visiting college campus, secondary schools and public venues. Some two dozen events in total, including a follow-up visit to Paris as the keynote speaker for the Paris Model UN Conference, hosted by UNESCO.
“[Ana] offered beautifully organized presentations with dramatic deliveries and excellent, humane messages our students needed to hear. Good journalism. Good stories.”
Glenn Scott, Elon University
“Your keynote speech hit the nail on the head. It spoke to the students from the heart ... The depth of your ideas coupled with the simplicity in which they were couched as well as your direct demeanor have been truly remarkable and were the perfect opening for our conference.”
Ouriel Reshef, Model UN
At the rate of nearly one event per day (a total of 360) we worked directly in schools across the U.S. and Europe to connect some 14,000 students and teachers with our journalism projects.
Social Justice Days
The students and teachers at the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia showed us—twice—how much can be done with a Pulitzer Center journalism project in a school. All-school viewings of The Abominable Crime and Seeds of Hope framed wide-ranging “Social Justice Days.” Included in the activities: rich and deeply personal discussions about the students’ own experience with the issues, poetry and dance recitals, and Q&As with filmmakers Fiona Lloyd-Davies and Micah Fink.
Our collaboration with Free Spirit Media turned five years old this summer. The ongoing six-week short documentary workshop, mentored by Pulitzer Center grantees and staff, facilitated another crop of ambitious and powerful student work, exploring themes of mental health, food security, community and family relationships. In Philadelphia, we teamed up with Scribe Video Center on a similar program. “Not Your Mama’s Drama,” the sprightly yet serious film that resulted from this summer’s workshop, explained, celebrated and critiqued images and symbols of black women in America.
Photographs are a powerful way to cultivate classroom discussions around complex global subjects. We were delighted to work with grantees Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill and their Everyday Africa project in elementary and middle schools in the Chicago and Washington, D.C., areas this year. The project introduces middle school students to the tremendous diversity of Africa, uses ordinary cell phone images to tell stories of normal life away from the headline tragedies. In Washington, D.C., the program inspired students to do their own photography to counter media stereotypes of their neighborhoods and will culminate in an exhibit of the student work at the Pulitzer Center.
“My students picked up on the importance of ‘everyday’ imagery very quickly, because they are so accustomed to their neighborhood being presented in a negative light, and that is not the reality of their ‘everyday.’ They realize the power in making sure that people realize that their everyday lives are not a series of crises, but a string of very normal, and very special events.”
Adam Reinhard, teacher at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C.
“The Pulitzer Center had quite an impact on my life. In my freshman year history class our final project was to use their website to create a presentation on one of the countries and topics covered. I chose to do mine on Syria. The project opened my eyes to what was occurring there and throughout the Middle East. Now, as I'm thinking about college, I know that I want to major in international relations."
Emma Swislow, 11th grade student at Francis W. Parker School in Chicago
Programs with Pulitzer Center journalists at Campus Consortium schools and another 20 universities in the U.S. and around the world in 2014 reached an estimated 6,000 individuals at more than 120 events.
The Campus Consortium offers diverse programming as well as opportunities for students to undertake international reporting projects. Pulitzer Center journalists offer fresh-from-the-field insights, often on systemic global issues that bridge multiple academic disciplines.
Flexible Programming: Partnerships are tailored to individual university needs, from a for-credit-course at the College of William & Mary to high-level symposiums on global health and a growing focus on community colleges.
Expanded Global Reach: Jon Sawyer and Kem Knapp Sawyer spoke with more than 600 journalism students at five Chinese universities. Tom Hundley spoke to university audiences in Manila, Jakarta, and Doha.
The Pulitzer Center awarded international travel reporting fellowships to 21 students in the Campus Consortium. All their work is published on the Pulitzer Center website. Our student fellows produced articles, untold stories, videos, and slideshows on a wide range of topics including:
- Cervical cancer in Uganda
- Skin bleaching in Ghana
- Treatment of the elderly in Peru
- Maternal healthcare in Kenya
Religion and Reform:
- Schools in Ecuador
- Children with disabilities in China
- The prison system in Norway
- The Catholics in Europe
- The Parsis in Mumbai
Migrants and Refugees:
In 2014, former student fellows received the 2014 RFK Award for College Journalism for reporting on human rights and social justice, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Mark of Excellence Award (non-fiction magazine writing category), and 1st place in the Illinois Press Photographers Association (IPPA) Best of Multimedia.
Student Fellows Washington Weekend
Seventeen student fellows met at the Pulitzer Center on October 10-11 to share their reporting projects, meet journalists, and network at the first Pulitzer Center student fellow gathering of its kind.
Student Presentations: Student fellows gave brief presentations of their projects and discussed issues they had covered including environmental justice in Kiribati and women’s issues in Uganda.
Panel Discussions: Journalists and editors from New York and Washington (several of them former Pulitzer Center grantees) talked about pitching, key elements of a good story, and the use of social media.
Staff Workshop: Discussions with staff members ranged from the choice of journalism as a career to the use of new platforms.
Keynote Speakers: Nautilus Senior Editor Amy Maxmen spoke on the importance of the human element in a complex science story. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette photographer Julia Rendleman and Southern Illinois University Carbondale professor William Freivogel gave evening talks at a dinner held at the Cosmos Club.
"I thoroughly enjoyed this weekend! It was inspiring, fascinating and definitely renewed my interest in pursuing journalism as a career."
Tom Clement, Guilford College Student Fellow
"Not only have I learned what it means to be a journalist in the field, but I have learned so much about myself as a person. I left last weekend feeling inspired and with a new sense of hope and direction."
Janice Cantieri, Washington University in St. Louis Student Fellow
Special events introduced wide and diverse audiences to our reporting in imaginative and informative ways. Some highlights:
Fashion’s True Price at Photoville NYC: Exhibition at New York’s largest annual photo festival featuring work by photojournalists Larry C. Price, Sean Gallagher and Jason Motlagh on the people behind the goods of the fashion industry. All work hung in shipping containers repurposed as mini-gallery spaces.
Talks@Pulitzer: Thirteen presentations by grantees on topics ranging from climate change to gang violence in Honduras. A special series on women and children in crisis included discussions of child miners in the Philippines, reproductive health in Nigeria, education of girls in Afghanistan, and widows in India. Audiences ranged from 25-50 people per event. Thank you to all our grantees who spoke this year.
Worcester Art Museum: A rotating exhibition of photography depicting the consequences of the use of modern weaponry—from gang violence to child soldiers—on exhibit through 2015 at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts as part of the Knights! exhibit.
“Together these exhibitions create an emotional experience of both the awe and agony of destruction.”
Comment left on iPad application at the Worcester Art Museum exhibit
Through our connection to social media sites, such as Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Facebook, Weibo and Wechat, our reporting projects and educational opportunities have reached hundreds of thousands of globally-minded educators, journalists, students, and communities around the world in 2014.
- With over 190,270 followers, our Tumblr pages carry viewers along journeys in the field via our journalists' unique lens into their stories.
- With 8,335 subscribers and counting, our weekly newsletters offer our editors' perspectives on featured reporting projects and their global impacts.
- Working with two dozen translators, we translated 148 articles into Chinese and published them through our Chinese social media accounts, Weibo and Wechat.
- Social media continues to help us bridge the gap between global issues and the classroom, providing student fellows a platform where they can share their stories. A new hashtag for our student fellows event (#pulitzerfellows) reached more than 135,529 unique Twitter users over a two-day period.
- Launch of “Field Notes” podcast, featuring interviews of Pulitzer Center grantees, produced by Quinn Libson. Available on iTunes.
Awards and Recognition
In 2014, journalists working with the Pulitzer Center won nearly two dozen awards for their reporting.
Ocean Acidification: Reporter Craig Welch, photographer Steve Ringman and The Seattle Times. A five-part series, “Sea Change: The Pacific’s Perilous Turn.”
- Online Communication Award from the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, which came with a $20,000 prize
- Overseas Press Club Whitman Bassow Award
- ONA Online Journalism Award for Explanatory Reporting
- New Approaches to News & Documentary Programming: Current News Emmy nomination
"No Fire Zone" by Callum Macrae and Zoe Sale uncovers war crimes committed during the final bloody months of the Sri Lankan Civil War.
Rana Plaza: Jason Motlagh’s in-depth examination of the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory.
- Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting from the South Asian Journalism Association (SAJA) for multimedia report in Virginia Quarterly Review
- Best Commentary from the South Asian Journalism Association (SAJA) for article in The Washington Post
Interim Lives: Refugee Survival in Jordan and Lebanon: Alice Su’s stories for The Atlantic, Vice News, Al Jazeera, and the BBC, exploring how refugees mobilize when aid agencies fail and the international community forgets.
- The 2014 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize from the United Nations Correspondents Association
"The Abominable Crime," Micah Fink’s film looks at homophobia in Jamaica.
- Audience Award for Best Documentary and a special mention in the juried awards at Roze Filmdagen, Amsterdam's Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
- Best Documentary at the Belize International Film Festival
- First-ever Amnesty International Human Rights Prize
"Outlawed in Pakistan," Habiba Nosheen and Hilke Schelmann’s film about a young girl who takes her rape case into Pakistan’s courts in hopes of finding justice.
- Overseas Press Club's David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award
- News & Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Research
“As a Pakistani filmmaker and journalist I am so pleased and honored that "Outlawed in Pakistan" won an Emmy … This was unbelievable and something that I could have never imagined as a little girl growing up in Lahore.”
Habiba Nosheen, Producer/Director, “Outlawed in Pakistan”
In 2014 we received new grants both for general support (from the John D. and Katherine MacArthur Foundation and the Trellis Fund) and for reporting on broad issue areas (from Wallace Genetic Foundation, American Jewish World Service, Entertainment Software Association Foundation, and Nuclear Threat Initiative). Support continued from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Robert McCormick Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, the MAC AIDS Fund, and the Kendeda Fund.
This broad mix of funding, along with continued core support from members of the Pulitzer family and a growing number of generous individuals, assures the independent journalism essential to our success. We are grateful to all who have sustained our work. We hope that others will join this vibrant community that is committed to engaging the broadest possible public on the big global issues that affect us all.
Audited financial reports available on request.