Translate page with Google

Pulitzer Center Update December 30, 2013

This Week: All That Glitters

Media file: MineIsBorn_Untold_Stories_Price_Burkina_Faso02.jpg

In just a quarter century, one of the world's poorest countries has transformed itself into Africa's...

Media file: 2013_price_compressormining_002.jpg
Jonathon Ramorez, 12, stands waist-deep in the bay with a wooden pan he uses to separate gold from sediment. He will spend hours in the water, which often is tainted with animal waste and teeming with bacteria. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2013.


Each day, tens of thousands of children risk their lives working in small-scale gold mines around the world. Photojournalist and Pulitzer Center grantee Larry Price, who has been documenting the crisis for several years, teams up with the Center for Investigative Reporting's Rick Paddock to examine the hellish conditions in the mines of Indonesia and the Philippines.

The deadliest danger the children face is constant exposure to mercury, a key component in the mining process. The children, some as young as 5, handle mercury on a daily basis, breathe its vapors, ingest it in their food and water. Mercury poisoning causes tremors, memory loss, brain damage, and other ailments. It accumulates in the body over time, and its effects are irreversible.

Another high-risk practice known as compressor mining is carried out underwater—often by children—with little regard for safety. Who profits from the labor of children in countries like Indonesia and the Philippines? Much of the gold from here ends up in China, Rick writes in a two-part series for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Once it enters the world gold market, there is no way to know how much reaches the United States.


Larry Price is just one of more than a dozen distinguished photojournalists whose work we supported this this year. Their projects ranged from Amy Toensing profoundly moving documentation of widowhood in India to Steve Ringman's stunning images for the Seattle Times of South Pacific ecosystems endangered by ocean acidification.

This work will win its share of prestigious prizes but here at the Pulitzer Center we like to get a jump on the jury by asking our staff to nominate their personal favorites. You can view our picks here. We also invite you to nominate your own.


Pulitzer Center grantee Reese Erlich continues his outstanding run of reportage from Syria with a dispatch about the worsening situation for the country's Christian population. Christians feel squeezed by the lawlessness from both sides. But most Christians fear extremist rebels more than the government, Reese writes in GlobalPost.

Perceived as wealthier than the majority Sunni Muslims, Christians make lucrative kidnapping targets for ransom-seeking gangsters on either side or no side. But according to Reese, the larger threat to Christian communities comes from ultra-conservative Islamic groups [that] have launched violent attacks on minority groups in order to rally their supporters against infidels and propel themselves to power.


All of us here at the Pulitzer Center wish you and your family a happy and healthy New Year. And before 2013 draws to a close, we invite you to catch up with the prize-winning work of our grantees with a free download through the holidays of all Pulitzer Center in-house published e-book titles on iTunes and Creatavist. Books on Kindle are only 99 cents. Search for them through iTunes or head here for a full list.