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Pulitzer Center Update September 21, 2023

$30 Million in New Funding Support for the Pulitzer Center

Pulitzer Center CEO and President Jon Sawyer, left, with Jake Silverstein, editor in chief of The New York Times Magazine, and Espen Barth Eide, Norway's minister of climate and environment. Image by Ragnhild Eikenes. United States, 2023.

The Pulitzer Center is pleased to announce nearly $30 million in support for its unique model of innovative journalism combined with focused audience engagement across the globe.

The new support includes a $16 million commitment over the next five years for our work on rainforests and oceans, as well as on commodity supply chains, financial transparency, and corporate/government accountability. The donors are the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI).

Additional funding includes multi-year commitments of general operating support: $2.4 million from the Laudes Foundation and $900,000 from the Open Society Foundations (OSF). We intend to use those funds to expand our existing initiatives on climate and labor and artificial intelligence (AI) accountability.

These long-term commitments include explicit guarantees of editorial independence in our selection of journalism projects and engagement initiatives—and for the journalists, news media, and education partners we support.

This new multi-year operating support also meets the terms for an extraordinary match by Emily Rauh Pulitzer, the chair of the Center’s board of directors: a gift of $10 million toward our general endowment fund, with income from that gift devoted in perpetuity to helping the Pulitzer Center sustain and expand its service to journalism, education, and the public at large.

“These contributions are truly transformational,” said Jon Sawyer, the Pulitzer Center’s CEO and president. “We are profoundly grateful to our Norwegian colleagues—and to the Laudes Foundation, OSF, and most especially Emmy Pulitzer.”

Sawyer made the announcement of the new support at an event on September 21 in New York City that brought together nearly 100 Pulitzer Center journalist grantees, news media and education partners, and donors. The gathering took place during Climate Week at the U.N. General Assembly, as many government officials noted that the world is falling far behind the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on climate, health, and other issues that were set in 2015.

“I am proud to announce that Norway will continue and strengthen our support for independent, investigative journalism across countries and continents through the Pulitzer Center,” said Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s minister of climate and environment.

“We are not on track for the SDGs,” Eide noted. “We must do better to secure a just and equitable transition. This means more transparent business practices, stronger labor rights, and the hindering of tax evasion and corruption.”

“A strong, healthy society requires a strong Fourth Estate,” Eide said. “We need your journalistic eyes and ears to investigate and expose. Go tell your stories—and make the public sphere a safer place.”

In a statement on the new grant, Norway’s prime minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, said, “We live in a time where the truth is under pressure from polarization and fake news. The free and independent media is more important than ever before.”

“At the same time, we have to make huge transitions related to climate change and new energy sources,” he added. “Norway is happy to contribute funds to critical and independent journalism related to climate change, ocean sustainability, deforestation, transparency, and governance. Our hope is that this will contribute to a free and informed debate on what we need to do to overcome the paramount challenges in our time.”

The new commitments from Norway—170 million NOK, approximately $16 million at current exchange rates—build on Norway’s support of our rainforest work since 2018. The Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Journalism Fund and Rainforest Investigations Network have resulted in nearly 2,000 stories published in more than 400 news media outlets across 50-plus countries. The rainforest initiative’s “communities of learning” model has spawned cross-border collaborative investigations, capacity building, and compelling engagement initiatives—from new curricula in Congolese secondary schools and universities in the Amazon to art exhibitions and social media influencer campaigns in Southeast Asia.

Sawyer noted that Norway’s support has made it possible for the Pulitzer Center to recruit experienced editors and engagement experts from across the major rainforest regions, building a global operation that now has staff based in 14 countries. Norway’s support has also allowed us to build a model in our rainforest work—of long-term fellowships, collaborations across borders and media outlets, expert help on the mining of data, and strategic engagement—that we are now applying to our work on oceans, AI accountability, financial transparency, and governance.

The new operating and endowment support, Sawyer said, gives the Pulitzer Center “the financial stability that allows the precious freedom to experiment, seizing on the opportunities and challenges that come our way.”

“This is a moment when it is crucial to find creative approaches to the urgent crises we face,” he said. “The Pulitzer Center is determined to play its part in crafting the solutions we need.”

Read remarks by Jon Sawyer at the New York event on September 21