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Pulitzer Center Update October 15, 2014

This Week: Campus Consortium Comes to Washington

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Janice Cantieri (left), Katie Mathieson (center) and Tom Clement (right) discuss their reporting on the impact of climate change in Kiribati, Patagonia and India.

We held our first-ever student fellows conference last week, bringing together 17 of the 21 students from our Campus Consortium university partners, all of them recipients of Pulitzer Center international reporting grants.

The heart of the two-day event were the student presentations on a remarkable range of work from every corner of the globe—from environmental justice and land rights in India, Kiribati, and Patagonia to women's issues and health care in Uganda, Kenya and Ghana to the Roma in Paris and the resilience of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

During one panel Smithsonian Chief Photo Editor Molly Roberts, author and Pulitzer Center grantee Mellissa Fung, and former student fellow Melissa Turley discussed how to pitch and shape a reporting project. In a second panel photojournalists Allison Shelley, Julia Rendleman, and Daniella Zalcman—all former or current Pulitzer Center grantees—talked about reporting on global health issues. Each stressed what is too often ignored—that "otherizing," presenting individuals as if they were the alien "other," is a disservice to subjects and audience both.

We also heard from Nautilus Senior Editor Amy Maxmen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette photographer Julia Rendleman and Professor William Freivogel from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The topics ranged wide, from Bhutanese refugees in Pittsburgh and the origins of humankind in Ethiopia to the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., but there were important common themes: Look for the human element when telling a story; don't be satisfied with the truth—look for the whole truth.

The Campus Consortium is a vital part of the Pulitzer Center's work because it exposes students from a wide array of universities to our journalists and to the topics we cover—and exposes us to the diverse backgrounds and expertise of the students and their universities. This weekend brought us together face to face, to the benefit of all.


As a Vatican synod this week issued a surprisingly conciliatory statement on divorced Catholics, Pulitzer Center Senior Editor Tom Hundley and grantee Ana Santos, this year's Persephone Miel fellow, wrote about the increasingly dire situation in the Philippines, the only country on the planet that still refuses to allow divorce for most of its citizens.

In a story for The Washington Post, Tom and Ana note that "the absence of modern divorce laws looms large in the Philippines, a poor but rapidly transitioning society with a large migrant workforce and many transnational families."

One recourse for those in unhappy marriages is to simply move on to the next relationship and "live in sin" in the eyes of church and state. The alternative is to follow a tortuously convoluted—and prohibitively expensive—path to an annulment.


Can lessons from America's breadbasket help China feed its enormous population? In a seven-part interactive series that begins this week in the Des Moines Register, Pulitzer Center grantees Lynn Hicks and Rodney White look at a quiet revolution that is taking place in China.

"Chinese agriculture, long dominated by lawn-sized plots of land harvested by hand, is rapidly growing larger. Farmers and entrepreneurs are acquiring more land and buying modern equipment. High-tech, mega-sized pork, dairy and poultry operations are replacing backyard production. And China is considering whether to allow farmers to plant genetically modified corn seeds," Lynn reports.

"These big dreams mean big opportunities for U.S. and Iowa agribusinesses," writes Lynn. It also could mean major environmental, political and economic risks for China.

The series in the Register coincides with this year's World Food Prize conference, also being held in Des Moines. This evening, Lynn and Rodney will join two other Pulitzer Center grantees—filmmaker Karim Chrobog and MinnPost reporter Sharon Schmickle—in a program that examines America as a land of plenty and a land with plenty of food waste.

Until next week,

Jon Sawyer
Executive Director