Pulitzer Center Update

Jason Motlagh Profiled In Online Journalism Review

Pulitzer Center

A free-lance prototype: multimedia and entrepreneurial

David Westphal, Online Journalism Review

June 30, 2009

The University of Virginia prepared Jason Motlagh very well for his career as a free-lance foreign correspondent.

When he applied to take a journalism elective course, he was rejected because he wasn't an English major. When he applied for a job as food columnist at the school paper, he was also rejected.

But Motlagh persisted, and eventually won a spot on the school paper as travel columnist. His specialty: Travel to fascinating world spots on very low budgets.

Voila. Today Motlagh has five years of free-lance foreign correspondence under his belt and, in many respects, he is the prototype for the journalist of the future: a free-lancing, multimedia correspondent who knows how to market his work and live on a tight budget.

I found Motlagh through my friend Jon Sawyer, who runs the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and who has made Motlagh, 28, one of the workhorse reporters for his up-and-coming nonprofit. Jon confirmed one of Motlagh's most attractive traits: his "doggedness."

In the last two years, Motlagh has covered for Pulitzer the massive flooding in south Asia, the Maoist Naxolite rebels of north-central India, the Nepalese Maoist groups, Sri Lanka's fight with the Tamil Tigers and, more recently, civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

But that rendition of Motlagh's recent work doesn't get at the heart of what he does or what makes it work...