Pulitzer Center Update

News Bites and Lesson Plan of the Week: Cold War Fault Lines

Ukraine Police

Still from the July 6, 2016 PBS NewsHour broadcast. Ukraine, 2016.

Dear Educators,

This week's News Bite lesson explores Nick Schifrin and Zach Fannin's four-part film series investigating the global impacts of growing tension in Eastern Europe. This rich story, which includes reporting from three countries, can lead to exciting conversations about the lasting impacts of historical events.


News Bite Lesson: Cold War Fault Lines

This week's News Bite lesson plan asks students to use discussion, writing and close analysis of four short films to explore the causes and impacts of growing military activity in Eastern Europe. The films explore violence on the border of Ukraine, growing military activity organized by NATO on the borders of Estonia and Poland and the impacts of growing tension between NATO and Russia. Students examine how journalists Nick Schifrin and Zach Fannin explain and investigate a conflict involving multiple stakeholders, and then use their analysis to create visual illustrations of the conflict.


Featured Lesson: Rearming: Critics vs. Backers

This week's featured lesson plan was written by Patrick Reilly, a rising senior at the University of Chicago and an intern at Pulitzer Center this summer. Through discussion, writing and the analysis of a short film, students are asked to evaluate how and to what extent American defense officials' professional backgrounds have shaped their positions on nuclear rearmament. Students then write two essays: One expressing their own opinion of nuclear rearmament and the other expressing the position of a public figure. This exercise aims to start a conversation about how key players in political debates may draw on their career backgrounds to articulate a position on an issue.

EDUCATION NEWS: Allison Shelley Talks Research and Photography with Young Photographers in DC

What was one of your days like?", a young photographer asked Allison Shelley.

“What was your shooting schedule?" another photographer asked.

"Did you have to hold your emotions back? How did you?” others wondered.

Shelley had just concluded a presentation for photographers participating in the Stories in Action program hosted by Washington DC-based nonprofit Critical Exposure. The high school students and young adults participating in the program are spending the summer learning photography and reporting skills that they will then apply to the creation of photo stories documenting underreported topics in DC. Shelley presented photos from several of her reporting projects in Haiti, and then used several Pulitzer Center projects to start discussions about different ways that photographers can tell stories. She then worked with students to analyze how research and reporting ultimately lead to photo stories.

“When I first got there I didn't have a specific assignment,” Shelley said when asked about her first reporting trip to Haiti. “Because it's so hot and the sun is so intense, you are best served by getting up early. Not so hot. Gorgeous light. I would go meet people, have conversations, ask people about their motivations, build those relationships.”

Shelley explained that a strategy she uses to build relationships while reporting is to give her subjects copies of the photos she takes of them. “Usually when I'm reporting I'm thinking in the back of my head of what photo I'll bring back for them,” she said.

Shelley also explained the extensive research she does before photographing a story. She pulled up her email to illustrate the amount of preparation and communication that goes into reporting. She also shared her written notes, and then asked students to make predictions about how she might have applied those notes to deciding on the photographs she hoped to capture.

Before concluding the visit, Shelley asked the photographers to share their story ideas and a few of the photos they had taken so far. Participants described rich projects connected to DC identity, street art, fashion and community conflict. They also described the challenges they had faced in approaching subjects for their reporting.

Shelley closed by coaching the photographers one by one, guiding participants in an exploration of how they can apply research and photography techniques to deepen their stories.

“We are doing this because we want to help people think,” she said. “How can you bring this story home to people?”

If you are interested in connecting a journalist to your class to support a reporting or photography project, contact education@pulitzercenter.org.

Featured Project of the Week: Cold War Fault Lines by Nick Schifrin and Zach Fannin

Click here to learn more about Nick Schifrin, Zach Fannin and their reporting on escalating conflicts in Eastern Europe.

If you are interested in connecting Cohen to your classroom in-person, or over Skype, please contact us at education@pulitzercenter.org.