[Editor's note: At the War Stories Peace Stories Symposium held at The Times Center on April 11, 2018, the winners presented their pitches for the three projects outlined below. "A Lasting Peace in Colombia?" was selected to receive an additional $5,000 honorarium. We are grateful to the journalists for sharing their story proposals and to our four judges: Hayes Brown, deputy world news editor at BuzzFeed; Yochi Dreazen, foreign and national security editor at Vox; Vanessa Gezari, national security editor at The Intercept; and Saba Ismail, activist and founder of Aware Girls. Many thanks too to War Stories Peace Stories for organizing and hosting the event. This post has been updated to include photos from the event.]
The Pulitzer Center, in collaboration with War Stories Peace Stories, is pleased to announce the winners of Pitching for Peace, a journalist competition aimed at reframing the media's presentation of conflict situations around the globe. The Pulitzer Center received 202 applications for reporting projects on subjects related to peacebuilding efforts and nonviolent resistance. Three projects were chosen to be supported by the Pulitzer Center:
- Grassroots Peacemaking in Africa's Great Lakes: Africa's Great Lakes region has seen its share of upheaval, from political instability to humanitarian crises that have dangerous ripple effects across borders. A secret weapon has emerged in the efforts to establish a longterm peace and ease inter-communal tensions—and these peacekeepers don't wear blue helmets. They're community mediators. Cassandra Vinograd, an award-winning writer and producer based in London, will look at how communities and individuals are using nonviolent reconciliation tactics and a grassroots approach to cement stability in the Great Lakes region.
- A Lasting Peace in Colombia?: Freelance journalists Laura Dixon, Mariana Palau, and Verónica Zaragovia will report on the successes and failures of the peace deal with the left-wing FARC guerrilla group in the most critical moment of its implementation. In a time of transition towards a new presidency, they will assess what has changed since one of the most ambitious peace deals in the world was signed in November 2016, ending more than 50 years of war, and what challenges will arise with a government change. By traveling to different regions of Colombia, they'll cover how peace commitments are carried out, or not, focusing on women, minorities, and other vulnerable subjects.
- A Second Chance in Somalia: For over a decade, the terrorist group Al-Shabab has been waging a campaign of violence and terror across Somalia with its seemingly endless supply of new recruits. A few ordinary Somalis are working to deny the terrorist group its ability to recruit new fighters—and also to help those who fell for its false promises. A rehabilitation center not far from the capital is working to rescue hundreds of former Al-Shabab recruits who have defected and provide vocational training before returning them to their communities. Hassan Ghedi Santur, a freelancer based in Nairobi, reports on giving defectors a second chance at life.
Congratulations to all the winners. On April 11, 2018, they will present their projects to a panel of judges and audience at the War Stories Peace Stories symposium to be held at the Times Center in New York. An additional $5,000 award will go to the individual or team with the best proposal. This symposium features a full-day program with panels on issues related to peace and conflict reporting. Authors Sebastian Junger and Alexis Okeowo will be featured speakers.