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Pulitzer Center Update March 2, 2021

A Breakthrough for Pulitzer Freelancers!

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The Breakthrough Journalism Award


"Honoring the Journalists Who Bring Us the Story"

If you’re a regular reader of this newsletter you know that the Pulitzer Center is all about collaborations, from projects with individual news outlets and multi-country reporting initiatives to educational outreach via our network of K-12, college, and university partners.

One of our most important roles is supporting freelance journalists, our eyes and ears on critically important issues across the globe at a time of plunging newsroom staffs and budgets. The help takes many forms: feedback on reporting ideas, introductions to potential outlets, speaking opportunities, and, not least, actual reporting grants—support for 677 freelancers over the life of the Pulitzer Center and 172 in just the past year.

We also celebrate our freelance community via the Breakthrough Journalism Award. Now in its second year, the Breakthrough Award honors the work of freelance journalists who have been in this field for 10 years or less. Eligibility is limited to current and prior Pulitzer Center grantees. The focus is on breakthrough journalism in the past 12 months, but the work need not be associated with a Pulitzer Center grant.

Thanks to the generosity of donor Eva Lohrer, this is a substantial prize: $10,000 to the winner and $5,000 to the runner-up. We’ve extended the applications deadline to March 15 in the hopes of attracting the strongest possible pool of contenders.

The freelance journalist life has never been easy, as so many of you know. It’s tougher still in this era of constraints on travel, attacks on journalists, and news outlets in distress.

Please apply! If you don’t meet the eligibility requirements yourself, nominate someone who does. The Breakthrough Award is a chance to honor our best—and to remind the world how important freelancers are.


Jon Sawyer's signature


The Pulitzer Center-supported project Investigating Land Grants to Universities has won the George Polk Award for education reporting. For High Country NewsTristan Ahtone, editor in chief at the Texas Observer, and Cambridge University historian Robert Lee uncovered how public universities in the United States benefited from the sale of millions of acres of land taken from Indigenous people. The project has inspired reconciliation efforts between universities and the communities they serve across the country, from the University of California to the University of Florida and beyond. 

This message first appeared in the March 2, 2021 edition of the Pulitzer Center weekly newsletter. Subscribe today.

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