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Pulitzer Center Update October 2, 2023

Tobacco, Doulas, and Climate Science: Our Latest Health Stories


Across Indian Country, there is a silent health epidemic killing Native women: pregnancy and...

Baby Graham wears traditional moccasins his mother purchased for him at the Daybreak Star powwow in Seattle. Image by Jessica Lázaro Moss. United States, 2023.

Probing systemic inequalities through nuanced climate and health reporting

Recent investigations published by Pulitzer Center grantees explore nuanced linkages between health, justice, and climate change science, underscoring the Pulitzer Center’s unique role in championing stories that address complex topics and connecting with audiences who need to hear them.

Grantee Jason McLure investigates health and governance in Smoking for the State, a global investigation examining how state ownership of the tobacco industry affects public health, published in the newly launched health media outlet The Examination. The first stories focus on China Tobacco, China’s state-owned cigarette monopoly and the world’s largest cigarette maker. Over 2.4 trillion cigarettes are sold each year in China alone, with revenue nearly equivalent to China’s defense budget. For decades, the company has undermined a landmark international anti-smoking treaty, and millions more deaths are predicted as a result.

Connecting health and justice issues, grantee Jenna Kunze reports on the rise of Indigenous doulas in Washington state. Birth keepers draw on Indigenous knowledge and culturally competent care to help Native women reclaim birthing and parenting practices and find community. Maternal deaths in the U.S. are deeply rooted in systemic inequities, with Black and Indigenous women bearing the brunt of these casualties—and the science shows that these doulas are saving lives. The effectiveness of doulas is so convincing that numerous states have passed bills to expand Medicaid coverage to include doula care.

Climate change’s impacts on health are the focus of this week’s Pulitzer Center-supported special issue of Science Magazine, “An Unhealthy Climate.” The issue explores the effects of global warming and extreme heat on the spread of infectious diseases and the human body—and who is likely to be hit hardest, including pregnant people and those in hotter and poorer countries. The first pieces focus on climate’s effects on diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks, migratory birds, and microbes frozen in permafrost. “Linking climate and disease is a scientific problem wrapped in a communications challenge,” writes grantee Kai Kupferschmidt.

The Pulitzer Center is ready to tackle the communications challenges ahead. As Norway’s Minister of Climate and the Environment Espen Barth Eide said during last week’s event announcing our new mission statement and funding, “We need to have stories. We need to have people willing to take the risk.” Read more powerful stories by our grantees and Fellows below.


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Last week, the Pulitzer Center announced a new mission statement and nearly $30 million in multi-year funding commitments. Watch the announcement, discussion on new initiatives, and a panel with key partners.

Video by Daniel Vasta. United States, 2023.


Pulitzer Center grantee Aryn Baker has won the 2023 National Association of Science Writers (NASW) Science in Society Journalism Award for her TIME cover story about the migrant workers who built the 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar under extreme heat conditions.

The winning story, “Thousands of Migrant Workers Died in Qatar’s Extreme Heat. The World Cup Forced a Reckoning,” was recognized in the Science Features category. The story was part of Baker’s Center-supported project Too Hot for Work: How Qatar Offers Lessons for the Economy of a Heating Planet, from the Pulitzer Center’s Our Work/Environment initiative on climate and labor.

This message first appeared in the September 29, 2023, edition of the Pulitzer Center's weekly newsletter. Subscribe today.

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two men lean against a wall for a smoke break

More than half the world's cigarettes are produced by companies either wholly or partly owned by...

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Multiple Authors
A castor bean tick (ixodes ricinus) on grass, possibly carrying disease

For years researchers have predicted that human health will suffer as the climate warms...

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Multiple Authors


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Environment and Climate Change

Environment and Climate Change
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Health Inequities

Health Inequities