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Pulitzer Center Update December 17, 2012

This Week in Review: Paper Cuts

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Faced with the devastating twin threats of digital and China, can a critical Wisconsin industry...

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A stand of aspen trees towers in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin. Image by Mike De Sisti. USA, 2012.

Over the last decade, China has tripled its production of paper, and in the process it has nearly destroyed one of Wisconsin's signature industries. It's a story of globalization with profoundly local implications. This summer the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, with a grant from the Pulitzer Center, set out to tell the tale. The result, "Paper Cuts," which appeared as a multi-part print and online series this week, is one of the finest pieces of explanatory journalism that we've seen in a long time.

Reporter John Schmid and photographer Mike De Sisti traveled from the shuttered mill towns of rural Wisconsin to the humming, state-of-the art mega-factories in Kushan, China's "Paper City." With deeply researched reporting, superb storytelling and a sharp eye for the revealing detail, they go beyond the familiar stereotypes and conventional wisdom to give readers real insight into Wisconsin's losing battle with China's innovation-driven economy.

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Even the Russians are now writing off the Assad regime. Moscow's top envoy to the Middle East this week outlined plans to evacuate Russian nationals from Syria, noting that each day the regime is "losing more and more control." Tens of thousands of Syrians have already been killed in the struggle and many more have fled the country. All of this is beginning to unravel in unexpected ways.

Pulitzer Center grantee Alia Malek, writing in The New York Times, focuses on "one of many lesser-noticed ripple effects that could reshape countries well beyond Syria's neighbors." Thousands of Syrian Armenians have fled Syria, she writes, "raising questions about the future of Syria's diversity (and) forcing Armenia, which depends on its strong diaspora communities to augment its otherwise scant geopolitical heft, to make delicate calculations about whether to encourage their exodus or slow it."

Alia, a civil rights lawyer who has reported extensively on the conflict, says, "For now, Armenia is hedging its bets. It is sending aid to Armenians in Syria, helping them stay and survive. But it is also helping them come to Armenia, temporarily or permanently, by fast-tracking visas, residency permits and citizenship."

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We are delighted by the news that "Outlawed in Pakistan," a documentary by Pulitzer Center grantees Habiba Nosheen and Hilke Schellmann is one of 15 short films selected for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Utah next month. The film follows the story of Kainat Soomro, a Pakistani teenager, who accuses four men from her village of gang-raping her and then faces threats of honor killing.

We are also thrilled that grantee Ameto Akpe, a Nigerian journalist who worked with us on water issues, has won the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation/UN Correspondents Association bronze medal for coverage of climate change.

Until next week,

Tom Hundley
Senior Editor