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Pulitzer Center Update March 21, 2022

The Grim Lessons—and Challenge—of Reporting in Ukraine


Image by Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum, for The New York Times. 2021.

Doing What We Can, Where We Can

Like so many around the globe, we were shocked to learn on March 13, 2022, that our former grantee Brent Renaud had been gunned down by Russian soldiers in Irpin, Ukraine, on the outskirts of Kyiv. That our longtime grantee Jane Ferguson was on the scene reporting for PBS NewsHour was a further reminder of how dangerous this war has become.

Brent was in Ukraine working for TIME Studios on a documentary about the global refugee crisis. If you’ve read the wonderful tributes to Brent, you’ll know that he and his brother Craig have been telling unforgettable stories from places like Ukraine for years—among them the project we supported in 2015 on migrants fleeing violence in Central America.

What few people realize is that even the largest news organizations struggle for the resources they need to ensure the safest possible coverage of stories that are essential to so many. Our own response to the current crisis is to help fund as much of this work as we can, in tandem with a broad range of organizations, from PBS NewsHour and The New York Times to USA TodayThe New York Review of Books, and the Virginia Quarterly Review.

We welcome further proposals—and we welcome donors who can help us support this work. The goal is simple: to fund as much coverage as possible, as safely as possible, while touching on the broadest range of topics.

Our guidelines for journalists are very much in line with the principles of ACOS (A Culture of Safety), the consortium of journalism organizations we helped create that is dedicated to ensuring that all journalists in conflict zones, staff and freelance alike, have the resources and newsroom support they require.

In stepping up to the immediate needs in Ukraine we are also mindful that we cannot lose focus on the many crises we face. Some of them relate to conflict, as in the reporting this week by grantee Simon Marks and Declan Walsh for The New York Times on the Ethiopian military’s complicity in the murder of three aid workers for Doctors Without Borders. Some relate to systemic challenges short of war, as in grantee Glòria Pallarès’ work with El País on the misuse of carbon credits in the Congo Basin, or grantee Lauren Markham’s reporting for Mother Jones on Greece’s brazen rebuff of migrants seeking refuge.

These are dangerous times, with no easy solutions. It’s incumbent on each of us to learn as much as possible, to do what we can, and to acknowledge our debt to brave journalists like Brent Renaud, who risk so much to bring these stories home.

Jon Sawyer's signature


Grantee Lauren Markham appeared on the podcast for This Matters to speak about her reporting on Europe’s refugee policies. Markham’s Pulitzer Center-supported project looks at border policies implemented by countries like Greece. This Matters is a daily news podcast produced by The Toronto Star. You can listen to Markham speak here.

This message first appeared in the March 18, 2022, edition of the Pulitzer Center's weekly newsletter. Subscribe today

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