Pulitzer Center grantee and filmmaker Rob Tinworth traveled to Columbia, Missouri, for the first event marking the University of Missouri School of Journalism-Pulitzer Center partnership. On September 8, 2017, more than 100 students and faculty members viewed "The Life Equation," a film produced and directed by Tinworth, that focuses on the role of “Big Data” in making global health decisions.
This partnership was made possible by Mizzou School of Journalism alum Russ Smith and his wife Gail Smith. They have created the Smith-Patterson Fellowship Program to promote science, health, and environmental journalism. In introductory remarks given before the screening, Smith shared his gratitude for his mentor Dr. Joye Patterson, in whose honor the program is named. He also spoke to the impact Patterson had on the teaching of science journalism, calling her "the consummate, easy going, 'you can do this' professor." She held students "to the highest standards of research, investigation, data analysis and drawing appropriate conclusions," teaching them "how to break down complex facts and, then, reinterpret them for the interested reader"—all skills the Pulitzer Center will seek to foster.
Before and after the film screening of “The Life Equation,” Tinworth asked the audience to think about and discuss where they would put global health dollars. Do you try to save the life of one person or prevent disease that will save the lives of thousands? (There are no easy answers.) Students were also asked to consider the charities they support—and most found they favor those where they had a personal connection.
During his stay at Mizzou, Tinworth also spoke to two classes: Beverly Horvit’s “International Journalism” and Stacey Woelfel’s “Documentary Reporting.” Tinworth regaled students with his own experiences as well as behind-the-scenes filmmaking techniques. He can draw from a variety of experiences given the range of his topics—from leprosy in China to programs for NOVA on rocks, dolphins, turkeys, tsunamis, great cathedrals, and the recent eclipse.
Contributing Editor Kem Sawyer accompanied Tinworth on his visit and spoke to Professor Katherine Reed’s class “Covering Traumatic Events.” Sawyer discussed special considerations that need to be taken when reporting on youth. She touched on the importance of taking time, building trust, and protecting sources. “Always remember ‘the why’: Why are we telling these stories?” she said.
Sawyer also led an information session on the Pulitzer Center international reporting fellowship available to students from Mizzou. Neeta Satam, a talented documentary photographer, has already been selected as Mizzou’s first Pulitzer Center student fellow. Her travel grant has taken her to the wetlands of Manipur, India, to report on the conflict between development and indigenous communities.
Many thanks to Professor Sara Shipley Hiles and David Kirpius, Dean of the Journalism School, for facilitating the partnership, organizing the visit, and hosting the film screening.