Pulitzer Center Update

This Week: Uruguay: The Real Legacy of José Mujica

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THE HERO AND THE HYPE

In politics, there’s often a sizeable gap between being admired and being effective. Pope Francis is widely admired, but can he be an effective leader of the Catholic Church? The same question is often asked about President Obama.

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, who steps down next month after his five-year term expires, became famous around the world for his humble lifestyle and his message of equality and anti-consumerism. In Uruguay, however, Pulitzer Center grantee Eve Fairbanks found that there is widespread disappointment with his inability to deliver on any of his promises.

But whose fault is that? In this fascinating profile for The New Republic, Eve writes: “There’s something wrong with the way we respond to figures like Mujica. We place our faith in them—fall in love with them—for what they say and the incorporeal impact they have on our national consciousness. But then, not only do we judge their performance on entirely different metrics, we also stop listening to them.”

DEATH ON WHEELS

The world's most pressing public health crisis isn't AIDS or Ebola or tuberculosis—it's the soaring number of motorcycle fatalities in the developing world. Over the next decade, motorcycle crashes are on course to claim more lives in Asia and Africa than HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

“On an official level, governments pay lip service to making roads safer and the need to accommodate the growing number of motorcycles, but they appear to view the body count as an unavoidable cost of economic progress,” writes Pulitzer Center Senior Editor Tom Hundley in a feature story for Foreign Policy.

“This, however, is a serious miscalculation. According to World Bank estimates, road crashes are costing the economies of Southeast Asia between 2 and 3.5 percent in annual GPD. Loss of productivity due to death and long-term disability (the overwhelming majority of motorcycle fatalities are male breadwinners), the burden on the health care system and property damage are the main factors.”

As one World Health Organization road safety specialist in Asia told Tom, “It’s not just the people who are killed—everybody pays.”

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH FIELD NOTES

For an in-depth, behind-the-scenes discussion of some of our best reporting projects, we invite you to check out the Pulitzer Center’s new podcast series, Field Notes. Produced by Pulitzer Center's Quinn Libson, these podcasts explore topics ranging from what it’s like aboard a crab-fishing boat in the Bering Sea to the ins-and-outs of reporting on ocean acidification from below the waves.

In the latest installment, Pulitzer Prize-winner photojournalist Larry Price talks about his efforts to document the harsh lives of children working in gold mines in the Philippines.

You can subscribe to Field Notes on iTunes or Stitcher; or listen to Field Notes episodes on SoundCloud.

Until next week,

Jon Sawyer
Executive Director