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Pulitzer Center

Reports from the field - an exclusive channel of Pulitzer Center reporting

About Suffering They Were Never Wrong

the hotel restaurant is almost emptyrussian security guards, turkish beer and bottles of absolut.

baghdad is a warm monochrome yellow-brown - far from the rain-grayed stone of petersburg and the concrete of brooklyn.

regime members once used this place to meet their mistresses.rubenesque portraits of iraqi women and torn velvet curtains.past the snipers' nests you can see the gold domes of Uday's pleasure palace.

'we do most of our reporting by telephone now.''it's a fun story - so many human angles. . .'

about suffering they were never wrong, The Old Masters.

they would understand the hennaed hair of the girls fleeing Taji,

the 100 songbirds above the roar of diesel generators,

the way 50 cals tear sheet metal like paperand safety-glass turns to piles of green tinted diamonds on the floorboards.and seat upholstery drinks in stains - deep, dark, brown

the feel of rosewater on sunburt skin,

the crackling kalashnikov fire - iraq 3, australia 1

. . .three journalists died today.the iraqi stringer called his mother before he died - 'hi mom. i've been shot.'

today is better than tomorrow.

Waiting In Amman

Fans swing back and forth on their columns.The pale woman with dyed black hair, alone in the lobby, staring off into space.The worn wooden desk, the framed portrait of the Hashemite King, the row of keys for rooms that have not been rented in years, the plastic ashtrays scarred by the cigarettes of decades of people left waiting here - just as we are waiting.

She turns, startled, 'Any news from Susan? - We went to school together in Chicago - you know her, I'm sure. . .. . .I'm sure you know her.'

Jameel picks me up in his taxi, on the edge of the third circle. In his wallet is a picture of his father's house in Al Khalil.

The tense heavy feeling of life clotted on hot asphalt - Saadi says - 'like harbor air clots in sea-shells'.

In Mahata, Jawad, sits in his room. The muhabarrat have raided the markets again, and it is not safe to work. . . the scars from his torture have faded now and no Western embassy will take him. Every day he waits for the knock on the door that will send him home to die.

Eight circles of Hell in Amman, you reach the ninth through the airport to Baghdad.

Communications, complications, frustrations

I shouldn't have time to blog this, but I do. That's because we are sitting in the hotel again, with nowhere to go. So far today, Plans A, B, C and our ad hoc plan D have all fallen through. This is due to a mix of not being able to reach people we were supposed to be able to reach, and having some people who promised us meetings having decided against it at the last minute. Everything must be carefully coordinated ahead of time, and it's usually the case that more important things come up for many people than hosting a couple of journalists.

The communications in Iraq, despite the introduction of cell phones
in the post-invasion period, are notoriously bad. There are three
competing cell phone networks across the country which work depending
on the situation and your location, and we have also bought a satellite phone. The general lack of electricity contributes to the problem. 

"In Iraq, you can have four wives and four phones," one of my friends jokes.

So reviled and ubiquitous is the message that plays when a phone cannot be reached ("the number you are calling is either turned off or out of the coverage area") that I've heard otherwise reasonable Iraqis say they'd swear allegiance to the mujahedeen if they were to assassinate the woman who recorded it.

Down the Rio Tapaje

Carlos Villalon chronicles life along the river Tapaje and the impact of the drug conflict between the U.S. backed-Colombian military, FARC guerrillas and paramilitary forces.

Letter from Murchison Falls, Uganda

Bill Freivogel, for the Pulitzer Center
Murchison Falls, Uganda

After spilling a Pepsi on myself on the first leg of the trip, I got lucky and was bumped up to first class for the Amsterdam to Kampala leg - 5,000 miles.  They had champagne ready for me when I sat down, a wonderful lunch and another snack just before landing and even a couple of trinkets to remember them by.

Letter from Kampala, Uganda

Bill Freivogel, for the Pulitzer Center
Kampala, Uganda

After half a day talking to Ugandan journalists who face death threats and government intimidation I found myself advising them that they should form an independent journalists' organization and to resist the government created licensing board. I did admit that this advice might be easier given than carried out.

Three more journalists killed

The streets were quiet as we drove back to our hotel this afternoon. Eerily quiet. It was a bit disconcerting until we remembered that the Iraqi football team was playing Australia in the Asian cup.

Iraq won 3-1, provoking celebratory gunshots after the game. Afterwards, as I walked to a nearby restaurant to get dinner, the streets in the neighborhood around the hotel were full of kids playing soccer. The harsh midday sun had given way to the soft light of evening, and I enjoyed a peaceful moment in what had otherwise been a depressing day, spent investigating a round of fighting on Thursday that had led to the deaths of a Reuters photographer and his assistant, as well as a dozen fighters and civilians, depending on whose account one believes.

The incident is another example of how hard it is to get to the bottom of things here, and it didn't help that the amount of time we were able to spend in the neighborhood was limited by the potential that the people giving eyewitness accounts might decide to vent their anger on us rather than to us.

Also today, a journalist working for the New York Times was killed.

That brings the official total of press and support staff killed to 150, though likely it is higher.

Alamin

According to residents, US fire directed at this minibus during a firefight in Baghdad's al-Amin Ithania neighborhood killed seven, including two Reuters employees.

Funeral

Residents of al-Amin Ithania prepare for the funerals of three people killed on Thursday.

The Launch

Pulitzer Center Staff

Are we tempting fate, to start a new blog on Friday 13th? Maybe so, but then we started the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting at a low point of media interest in global reporting -- and you only have to click through the Center's site for proof that great reporting is still being done, and finding outlets.

Contemporary Colombia

Combining the themes of paramilitary violence, drugs, and politics, these photos offer a glimpse into contemporary life in Colombia.