Several recent Pulitzer Center projects have focused on China’s increasing interest in Africa and the growing dominance of the Chinese in various extractive industries. The latest is Alexis Okeowo’s account in Fortune of trouble in a Chinese-run coal mine in Zambia, a country in which Chinese investors have already acquired a huge stake. The Collum Coal Mine in southern Zambia has been the scene of repeated bloodshed—Chinese bosses have fired on Zambian workers and one Chinese boss was killed by rioting miners—forcing the Zambian government to rethink its relationship with the Chinese.
“Zambia’s people, over half of whom live in poverty, are doubtful they will ever get their own share of the country’s abundant resources,” writes Alexis. “China has invested more than $2.5 billion in Zambia and created thousands of jobs. Nevertheless, Zambians say they fear those new jobs will go to Chinese immigrants, who have already entered the country’s market for unskilled work.”
Veteran radio journalist and Pulitzer Center grantee Reese Erlich has a knack for getting himself into—and just as important, out of—hard places. Earlier this year, Reese reported from inside Iran. Now he returns from a reporting trip to Syria where, as one of the few journalists to be accredited by the beleaguered Syrian government, he gleaned important insights into the staying power of regime that was supposed to be long gone.
Reese’s fascinating dispatches from Hezbollah strongholds in Damascus and his conversations with senior regime officials can be found on CBS News podcasts and on the GlobalPost website.
RED LIGHT RIO
At $20 per “program,” the women who work Rio’s gritty Vila Mimosa district are engaged in what Pulitzer Center student fellow Lauren Wilks describes as “survival sex.” Poor working conditions, social stigma and daily risks to health and safety are just some of the issues that concern the many women who see prostitution as the only way to make ends meet.
With Brazil gearing up for next year’s World Cup extravaganza, Lauren reports that efforts to “clean-up” the country’s reputation as a global destination for sex tourism are not making life easier for the most vulnerable.
The University of the West Indies’ St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago campus premieres the Pulitzer Center-supported documentary “The Abominable Crime,” a film directed by Micah Fink with Common Good Productions. The event is dually hosted by I Am One TnT, a new lobbying group seeking full equality for the LGBTQ citizenry of Trinidad and Tobago, and Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) at the UWI campus.
The full-length documentary tells stories of homophobia in Jamaica, and of people such as Simone Edwards (pictured above) who faces the choice of fleeing the country after her experience with hate crime, and of advocate Maurice Tomlinson, and the decisions he faces in advocating for what he believes. Both Micah Fink and Maurice will be Skyping in to join the discussion after the film. See the event listing on Facebook.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 7:00 p.m. Doors open 7:15 p.m. Film begins
UWI-St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago IGDS Seminar Room
In the spring of 2012 an intrepid journalist adventurer came to us with the most unusual proposal the Pulitzer Center had ever received—that we partner on the educational outreach on a reporting project that would be seven years in the making and that would entail traveling from Africa’s Rift Valley to the southern tip of South America—by foot. The journalist was Paul Salopek and the project his Out of Eden Walk, a rolling contemplation of humankind’s migration across the Earth and what it says about the big issues facing us today, and all of that at the pace of three miles per hour.
A year ago this month Paul was in the classrooms of Pulitzer Center schools in Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. He has kept in touch from the road, via Skype chats and emails and the lesson plans developed by the Pulitzer Center’s education team. This past week he has been introducing the journey on some of the biggest media platforms in the world—a cover story in the December issue of National Geographic (principal sponsor of Paul’s journalism in this project), a cover feature in The New York Times Sunday Review, and a joint interview on NPR’s Tell Me More with Pulitzer Center education advisor Homa Tavangar. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Paul on this inspiring project. For some of the highlights from the walk’s first year see outofedenwalk.com.
David Rohde Reports
The headlines this weekend were all Iran, the breakthrough agreement with six western powers aimed at ending sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran forgoing the acquisition of nuclear weapons. The story behind the story is the central role of Secretary of State John Kerry, and his unlikely emergence as a central player on big-stakes issues (not just Iran but also Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Afghanistan). You won’t find a better account than the 9,500-word profile of Kerry by Pulitzer Center board member David Rohde, currently featured onReuters online and in the December print edition of The Atlantic. David is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, formerly withThe New York Times and now a Reuters columnist. We are pleased to make David Rohde Reports a standing feature on our website, to give our readers quick access to his commentary, reportage, speeches and more.
Russian “Monotowns” and Honduras Elections
Two ongoing Pulitzer Center projects offer sharp insights on subjects continents apart. In a series for The New Yorker’sPhoto Booth blog, grantees Dominic Bracco II and Jeremy Relphdocument the tensions in Honduras surrounding a contested election and a society awash in drugs, violence and poverty. Grantees Anna Nemtsova and Brendan Hoffman continue their work on single-industry Russian cities with a report for Foreign Policy from Asbest—site of the world’s largest open-pit asbestos mine and a place where even showing journalists the site can cost someone her job.
Read The Atlantic’s interview with Louie Palu, a Pulitzer Center journalist who documented the violence of the drug war along the US/Mexico border:
"I feel that organized crime groups pose a greater risk to each one of us on a daily basis than terrorists or the Taliban," Palu said. "Their daily goal is to corrupt all government and law enforcement in order to carry out their business on both sides of the border."
Educational Resources for Teachers: Out of Eden Walk
In one of journalism’s boldest (and longest) endeavors, Paul Salopek is trekking 21,000 miles across the globe in the path of our migrating ancestors. This seven-year walk, called “Out of Eden,” will take him from Ethiopia to Patagonia, passing through more than 30 countries along the way. (Read more about his journey in the December issue of National Geographic.)
Salopek will pass through the cultures and lives of people who rarely make the news to reveal the major stories of our time — from climate change to technological innovation, from mass migration to cultural survival, from water shortages to women’s rights. Amidst the rush of information in the digital age, Salopek will document these stories through the slow pace of his footsteps.
With more than 350 reporting projects that address the issues touched on in the Walk, the Pulitzer Center is a deep resource for educators who would like to explore these issues in their classes. Below are some subject areas with specific reporting connections.
Although water accessibility and sanitation are especially pressing now, they’ve also been a constant battle throughout human history. Paul Salopek encountered this battle early in his journey when he learned just how heavy (and necessary) it is to lug water, at a whopping nine pounds per gallon, through the deserts of Saudi Arabia, and the unquenchable thirst that so many humans have to endure on a daily basis in hot desert regions.
Meanwhile Sharon Schmickle and local Tanzanian journalists explored thetension over food insecurity in Africa. Sharon’s main article was published in The Washington Post and discusses the fight over whether or not to genetically modify crops in Africa. Local journalists wrote about women farmers, drought issues, and more. Their articles were published in theDes Moines Register.
Paul will be trekking across all different parts of the globe, including areas where Pulitzer Center journalists have gone to report on climate change. For example, Justin Catanoso’s reporting focused on climate change in the rainforest. While most climate change reporting focuses on cold weather climates, Catanoso wanted to focus on the tropics, as discussed in hisNational Geographic article, “Peru: We’re Living in the Tropics.” Catanoso produced a radio series on his work, featured on WFDD.
Paul may be tracing the first steps of humans, but the population has grown since then. The Pulitzer Center has a population gateway that focuses on the issue of rapid population growth. Ken Weiss looks directly at the impact rapid population growth around the globe in his project “Beyond 7 Billion.” He believes contraception is the key to reducing child and maternal death. His work has been published in The Los Angeles Times.
Tom Hundley, the Pulitzer Center’s senior editor, and Dan McCarey, the Pulitzer Center’s Web Developer, created a project entitled “Roads Kill.”More than 1.2 million are killed on the world’s roads each year—and that number is increasing rapidly. If nothing is done to reverse this trend, the annual death toll is on course to triple by 2030. Journalists from the Pulitzer Center’s extensive network have been reporting on traffic safety around the world; Yochi Dreazen from Mali, Tom Hundley from Jakarta, Lauren Bohn from Egypt. Paul Salopek discusses Tafheet or “drifting,” which is an underground motorsport particular to the Middle East at the turn of the millennium, in his reporting.
See more projects on population in our Population Gateway.
"I’ll be traversing what is probably the greatest transformation in human consciousness since the invention of agriculture: the wiring of the world," explains Paul. "Today, about a third of humankind is interconnected through information technology, primarily via mobile devices, to the Web. By the time I plod onto a finish-line beach in Tierra del Fuego in 2020,that connectivity will be complete.”
Good journalism takes time. The Pulitzer Center invests in stories that take weeks, months, and sometimes years, to complete. While Salopek walks the earth, the Pulitzer Center is looking forward to connecting his reports, and those of our other journalists, to students and educators. As much ground as one man can cover in seven years - approximately 21,000 miles for Paul - there will always be more to learn and discover about the pressing issues of our time.
“She went back to her village and decided to live as if nothing had happened. Four years later, she was married. She said her husband didn’t know anything about her past and she will always keep that a secret.” Lusha Chen, Boston University’s student fellow, was speaking of a Burmese woman who had escaped after she was sold to a Chinese bachelor. Last Friday Lusha showed a clip from her film on human trafficking in Burma to a group of BU students, many of them prospective applicants for the Pulitzer Center fellowship. She was joined by Kerstin Egenhoffer from BU’s School of Public Health, who had traveled to Malawi to report on a form of poverty alleviation using cash transfers—grants with no strings attached. Cutting out the middleman works—but selecting the recipients isn’t always an easy process.
Lusha and Kerstin were two of the 21 student fellows from our partner universities who received international reporting fellowships. What follows is a glimpse at some of their work:
Women’s Rights and Water Rights
Varsha Ramakrishnan, from Johns Hopkins, traveled to India to report on “dowry violence,” perpetrated by husbands on their wives in an attempt to extort higher payments. George Washington University’s Eleanor Klibanoff reports on the effects of strict abortion laws in El Salvador and Nicaragua. Melisa Goss from South Dakota State University looks at human trafficking, the sex trade and tourism in Cambodia—Lauren Wilks, our Amnesty International student fellow, deals with the same issue in a story on brothel raids in Rio.
Linda Qiu from the University of Chicago chose to write on water issues: “In Botswana, diamonds aren’t forever. And neither is the supply of groundwater.” Nick Swyter from the University of Miamiinvestigates the effects of a proposed dam on the Ngabe indigenous people in Panama. Steve Matzker and Jennifer Gonzalez, from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, show how visions of hydropower can threaten a way of life in Nepal.
Health and Sanitation
Jon Cox, the student fellow from Davidson College, reported from India on affordable healthcare. In investigating both public and private hospitals he asked, “Why is aid failing to reach those who need it most?” University of Pennsylvania student fellow Luke Messac examined the inter-connectedness of currency devaluation, user fees, and the quality of healthcare in Malawi. He also touched on the difficulties faced by doctors there: As one clinician puts it, “The books do not describe how long the ambulance will take.” Diksha Bali, also from the University of Pennsylvania, looked at stolen trash bins, open defecation, political power plays, and waste management in Ghana.
Struggling Farmers and Student Protesters
Kassondra Cloos and Rachel Southmayd from Elon University studied the success of a cooperative organic farm in Cuba. Davidson College’s Adrian Fadil has started a project on sustainable farming in Palestine and the budding fair trade olive oil industry.
Two student fellows traveled to South America to follow the student protests for “education as a citizen’s right”— Loyola University Chicago’s Shirley Coenen in Chile and Wake Forest’s Jawad Wahabzada in Brazil. “There is the education that the wealthy receive and then there is the education that poor people receive – they are two completely different educations,” a Chilean university dean explained.
From the U.K.
High Point University’s Henry Molski looked into separation anxiety as he interviewed Scots on their views on independence—a year before the upcoming referendum. Cate Schurz, from Guilford College, questioned whether justice was served or jeopardized in the case of the Stephen Lawrence murder in Britain—a story pitting together racial tension and technological advances. Reporting on peace walls in Belfast that separate Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods, Devon Marie Smith from Westchester Community College interviews those who want to keep them up and others ready to tear them down.
Thanks to all the student fellows for the great reporting. We’ll spotlight more of their stories in the weeks to come.
"Slavery Isn’t a Thing of the Past," Nick Kristoff writes in last Thursday’s New York Times. He tells us the Global Slavery Index counts 60,000 “modern slaves” in the U.S. and 30 million throughout the world with the greatest number in India. Channeling William Wilberforce and Olaudah Equiano he talks about how to make way for modern emancipation.
Two Pulitzer Center student fellows have done their own research into modern slavery. Lusha Chen from Boston University photographed and interviewed Kachin women who have been trafficked to China for her project "Burmese Brides Along the Chinese Border." She highlights the work of the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) in assisting women who escape.
Melisa Goss from South Dakota State University writes about sex trade and tourism in Cambodia focusing on the work of World Hope International’s assessment center in Phnom Penh. One 11-year old who came to the center had been raped by her neighbor. “When the girls would draw pictures, she would use only black,” Channery Kao, a counselor, told Melisa.
See Greg Constantine's photos projected on the Holocaust Museum thru. Nov. 8th
Every night between 6 and 10pm until November 8th, the Holocaust Museum is projecting Pulitzer Center grantee Greg Constantine’s incredible photos of the Rohingya, one of the most oppressed peoples in the world, on their exterior walls. Don’t miss it!
Pulitzer Center at the St. Louis International Film Festival November 17
Please join us Sunday, Nov. 17, for the St. Louis premieres of two Pulitzer Center-supported documentaries, "The Abominable Crime" and "Seeds of Hope," during the Human Rights Spotlight sessions of Cinema St. Louis/St. Louis International Film Festival. Award-winning filmmakers Fiona Lloyd-Davies and Micah Fink will participate in discussions after each of their films screen. All screenings are free. A free reception also follows “Seeds of Hope.”
"The Abominable Crime," directed by Fink, is an award-winning documentary about homophobia in Jamaica, a mother’s love for her child and an activist’s troubled love for his country. In addition to Fink, Maurice Tomlinson, a subject in the film, will participate in the screening/discussion.
The Abominable Crime Sunday, November 17, 4:30 p.m. Brown Hall’s Auditorium, Forsyth Boulevard and Chaplin Drive (two blocks west of Skinker Boulevard) (map)
Seeds of Hope Sunday, November 17, 6:30 p.m. Brown Hall’s Auditorium, Forsyth Boulevard and Chaplin Drive (two blocks west of Skinker Boulevard) (map)
Human Rights Spotlight Reception Sunday, Nov. 17, 8:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Holmes Lounge - Washington University in St. Louis Holmes Lounge is close to Brown Hall. Holmes Lounge is sandwiched between Eads and Ridgley Halls on the Danforth Campus. The main entrance to the lobby overlooks Brookings Quadrangle.
We welcome all those who attended films at the Human Rights Spotlight sessions or who are interested in human rights issues to attend the reception and discuss these issues over food and beverages.
Join the Discussion: Is Media Literacy Important to Teach?
Please join McKinley Technology High School’s Mass Media department and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting on Monday, November 4 for a panel discussion on the importance of including mass media in today’s high school curricula.
In our rapidly developing, globally connected society we need clear, reliable and efficient methods of communication. Mass media, and by extension journalism, provide the means for these connections. Young people exposed to the various forms of storytelling mass media provide – books, newspapers, magazines, recordings, radio, movies, television and the Internet – grow into well-rounded, news-literate adults who communicate well, can form strong and articulate arguments and think critically about the world around them.
Monday, November 4, 2013 10-11:15 am McKinley Technology High School Room 150 151 T St NE Washington, DC 20002
Tomas van Houtryve, a member of VII Photo Agency and former Associated Press photographer. Tomas’ pictures and writing appear regularly in publications worldwide, including TIME, The New York Times, Newsweek, Le Figaro Magazine, Le Monde, The Independent Magazine, GEO, Stern, Smithsonian, Foreign Policy and National Geographic. Recently for the Pulitzer Center he examined life along the border between North and South Korea.
Brenda Mallory, the supervising producer at the DC Office of Cable Television’s educational channel, the District Knowledge Network. Brenda has produced successful newscasts at CBS, ABC and NBC-affiliated stations along the east coast and in Washington, DC, where she produced two top-rated newscasts. She spent a month in Bawaiti, Egypt as a writer/producer for the Discovery Channel’s Egypt Week Live series and also worked as a segment producer for the long-running Fox Television series “America’s Most Wanted.” Brenda has BA in Mass Media/Journalism from Hampton University.
Caroline D’Angelo, the Pulitzer Center’s social media editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from the University of Virginia and a master’s in environmental studies from the University of Pennsylvania. After a research trip to Sri Lanka and India, she co-founded wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water, the first journal on global water and women’s issues.
Meghan Dhaliwal, multimedia projects coordinator at the Pulitzer Center. Meghan is a photojournalist and multimedia producer who received her degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from Boston University. Her recent reporting in Haiti focused on the cholera epidemic and the lack of housing rights for internally displaced persons and was published in GlobalPost.
Barely six months have passed since the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, and already it seems the world has forgotten. More than 1,100 poorly paid garment workers died last April when the eight-story sweatshop where they worked collapsed. Pulitzer Center grantee Jason Motlagh, who has been investigating the tragedy, found that compensation for victims’ families “ranges from inconsistent to nonexistent” and that retailers in America and Europe who profit from cheap Bangladeshi labor have reverted to business as usual.
“In the immediate aftermath of Rana Plaza, there were promising signs,” writes Jason in the current issue of The Nation, “Dozens of well-known European and American companies signed on to separate safety accords to finance comprehensive renovations and fire-safety training, make audit results public and uphold a ban on subcontracting. Although the pledges made by the largely American alliance are non-binding and leave no meaningful legal recourse or space for workers who wish to organize, committed labor-rights activists initially called the agreements a ‘turning point’ for millions of Bangladeshi workers.”
It turns out that the families of the confirmed dead have received settlements of just $1,250—a “paltry sum” for a human life even by the impoverished standards of Bangladesh, Jason reports. New safety regulations exist on paper only and the uplifting promises made by U.S. and European retailers ring hollow.
“Of twenty-nine companies summoned to Geneva in September for a weekend conference aimed at attaining a compensation deal for the Rana Plaza disaster—as well as for victims of a fire last November in the Tazreen Fashions factory, which killed some 117 people—only nine came. Among those who did not attend were Walmart and Sears, both of which were later discovered to be sourcing from the Tazreen factory,” writes Jason. “Only one company that used a Rana Plaza supplier, the Irish budget-fashion chain Primark, agreed to provide aid over six months.”
THE FACE OF AID IN AFRICA
Pulitzer Center grantee Amy Maxmen says she’s got nothing against Angelina Jolie.
But Amy, who is in Mali looking at new approaches to the treatment of malaria, believes that the real face of aid in rural regions of Africa should be the local health worker—“men or women with a couple of weeks or years of training in how to deliver babies, advise mothers on nutrition and diagnose common, yet life-threatening ailments such as malaria”—not the famous movie actress or even the scientist with a cutting-edge laboratory advance, or the doctor in a lab coat.
“I thought about Angelina Jolie while talking to Miriam Cisse, a health worker in the N’tarla village in Mali,” Amy writes in her blog for Scientific American. “I don’t mean to disrespect the humanitarian actress, doctors or scientists, but when I watched Cisse straddle a motorcycle in her ankle-long dress, kick start the engine and ride off down the dirt road towards her community, I thought this should be the face of aid that America sees.”
TROUBLE IN PARADISE
“Many Caribbean countries are facing their toughest challenges since independence” says Pulitzer Center grantee and Financial Times correspondent Robin Wigglesworth. “Decades of slow growth, budget deficits and uncompetitive economies have culminated in a region-wide crisis. Many governments have already had to default on their debts, and more are teetering on the edge. Budgets are being slashed, worsening already-high unemployment rates.”
As a result, social cohesion is unraveling, violent crime is on the rise, and the region’s various drug cartels are taking advantage of the growing power vacuum.
In the first of a series of stories for the FT, Robin reports that “Barbados is battling to avoid becoming the latest Caribbean country to fall into the cool embrace of the International Monetary Fund after a failed $500m bond sale triggered political confrontation and exacerbated concerns over the nation’s solvency.”