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Pulitzer Center Update February 24, 2023

Understanding Ukraine, One Year In


A person holds a gun and sits in the middle of a dark room, looking toward a small window.

Students analyze reporting on conflict and Russian intervention in Ukraine over the past several years to gain context for the current crisis.

March 2, 2022
The Ukrainian flag flies over a war-torn building. Video thumbnail from "Russia Suspends Participation in Nuclear Treaty As Biden Rallies Support for Ukraine." Video courtesy of PBS NewsHour. Ukraine, 2023.

'And now we’re here . . .'

PBS NewsHour correspondent Nick Schifrin, reporting this week from the war in eastern Ukraine, interviewed the commander of a mortar unit whose front-line defense hasn’t moved an inch in nine months.

The commander, 46, a former civilian from the far-west city of Lviv who goes by the call sign Kalina, says he “never thought I would spend so much time here. I’m not young. I’m not fit for the army. I thought they would just train me and let me go home. But it all happened in a different way. And now we’re here.”

As we mark the first anniversary this week of Russia’s brutal invasion, much in Ukraine has gone differently than expected:  

A predicted Russian blitzkrieg that today looks more like a quagmire. A NATO alliance many saw as defunct instead revived, but at the same time a failure to enlist support from major players beyond Europe—from China and India to Turkey, Brazil, and Indonesia. A pummeled Ukraine that has inspired the world with defiance, courage, and a conviction of national solidarity that grows stronger every day.

In the first weeks of the war we awarded some of the largest reporting grants in our history, to NewsHour and multiple other news outlets and freelancers, in the hopes of facilitating as much solid information as possible, and multiple perspectives, on the biggest European conflict since World War II. We are making significant commitments again this month, with special focus on the superb team of NewsHour correspondents and producers whose unparalleled work on this story was recently honored with a duPont-Columbia Award.

We are grateful to Schifrin and other grantees for helping us bring the Ukraine story to our education partners and the broader public. Our lesson plan putting the war in context was accessed by 2,200 educators, more than any other curricular resource posted that month. NewsHour special correspondent Simon Ostrovsky helped facilitate an initiative that put Chicago high schoolers in touch with students from Lubny, Ukraine. 

Ukraine has been the focus of multiple Campus Consortium visits. Our webinars and Twitter Space events have included a broad range of voices, from NewsHour correspondents to independent Russian journalists now working in exile. Our Reporting Fellows contributed as well, with stories on the war’s impact on Ukraine’s disparate religious communities and on Ukrainian refugees in Turkey.

The Pulitzer Center’s model is built on our commitment to great journalism—and our belief that using this journalism to engage our educational partners and the broader public is the surest path to the formation of wise policies. That is especially the case with Ukraine, and with the difficult challenges we face today. We are grateful to everyone bringing us the information and insights we so desperately need.

All best,



The Pulitzer Center-supported project Facing Life has won an Anthem Award. Grantees Pendarvis Harshaw and Brandon Tauszik were honored with a gold prize for Education, Art & Culture in the Digital & Innovative Experiences, Awareness & Media category (nonprofit). The second annual Anthem Awards were announced on February 15, 2023, by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences (IADAS).

Facing Life is a digital multimedia project that documents the experiences of eight people recently released from California prisons. Tauszik, a photojournalist, used cinemagraphs, a hybrid of still image and film, as well as 360 VR and video to create portraits of each subject, and Harshaw recorded their stories with text. “The results are an intimate and extensive look into the ups and downs of re-entry in California,” said the award announcement.

Tauszik accepted the award in a short video clip featured on the Anthem Awards website. “Through our project Facing Life, we hope viewers will better understand the joys and struggles of those returning home from prison after serving life sentences,” he said.

This message first appeared in the February 24, 2023, edition of the Pulitzer Center's weekly newsletter. Subscribe today.

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