MEETING THE COVID-19 MOMENT
Journalism and education are both in a period of rapid, traumatic upheaval. Many of the journalism organizations we serve, stripped of essential advertising, aren’t sure they will survive at all. Teachers at every level are scrambling to deliver effective instruction to students remotely. Digital resources (and smart ways to teach them) are in demand like never before.
Big changes are underway. Old habits are dying. New ones are being born of necessity.
The Pulitzer Center is uniquely positioned to seize the moment we’re in—given the journalism partnerships we have built over the past 15 years, the hundreds of schools and universities we serve, and the in-depth digital curricular materials we have created.
We believe that this is a moment for decisive action. We have taken the following steps:
- We agreed to an emergency grant supporting COVID-19 coverage by Science, ensuring that the magazine’s top infectious disease specialists can continue their work on this topic through the end of 2020 and building on our past collaborations on HIV/AIDS and other topics. In less than a month of being awarded the support, they produced over 50 stories.
- We approved similarly ambitious enterprise reporting projects with other key media partners, among them the PBS NewsHour, Philadelphia Inquirer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, PBS Frontline, the Marshall Project, and the Associated Press.
- We issued the Coronavirus News Collaboration Challenge, a new initiative that has already produced more than 330 proposals, with requests totaling over $5 million dollars. We are supporting partnerships with journalist teams across the U.S. and in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and beyond.
- We launched Speaking Out on Coronavirus, a platform for the Pulitzer Center community to report and reflect on living with coronavirus—from the frontlines in Seattle to school closings in Illinois and the cramped quarters of a refugee camp in Greece.
- In response to the disruptions in journalism that have resulted from the virus, Columbia University has agreed to fund reporting grants for students graduating this spring. The $50,000 fund, to be administered by the Pulitzer Center, will support grants of up to $5,000 each for individual reporting projects by members of the Columbia Journalism class of 2020.
We have also surveyed our grantees to understand their needs and to help provide additional opportunities for them through our digital programming. Their survey responses will be used to create a database for editors.
We have been equally proactive in our educational and public outreach, working to deploy the effective instructional materials that are urgently needed for the balance of the school year this spring and in semesters to come. A needs-assessment survey of partners has given us clear signals on how teachers are adapting to teaching remotely. Our team is at work converting our materials to be student-facing and to print easily. The creation of longer-term curricular units is now underway. And we’re meeting the demand from the public for critical information about the pandemic.
- Our education team has produced webinars on responsible reporting, an introduction to our many digital resources for hundreds of teachers, and lessons on the response to past infectious-disease epidemics that draw on the work of Pulitzer Center grantees.
- We’re working with our university partners across our Campus Consortium network of 38 higher education institutions to develop programming for students in collaboration with our journalists for the fall.
- We organized a four-part Science and Health online Talks @ Pulitzer series involving Pulitzer Center grantees and experts in their fields including that was attended by over 600 individuals:
- Dr. Seema Yasmin, a past grantee and current director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative, focused on the dual journalism and public health crises
- Grantee Jon Cohen, a senior correspondent with Science, discussed the search for a vaccine against COVID-19
- Science journalist and former grantee Sonia Shah discussed her latest book “The Next Great Migration” on infectious disease outbreaks, climate change, and disrupted migration patterns
- Nature reporter Amy Maxmen, also a past grantee, discussed her more recent reporting on coronavirus testing
These community engagements not only serve a public interest mandate to inform, but also provide additional income to journalists in need.
The approaches we perfect now will become the prototype for national programming going forward. As we grow this community and learn together, we will also continue to adapt: modifying our resources and creating new ones in support of educators shifting practices in light of the new realities we face.
In pursuing this work we are fortunate we already have many talented partners and a staff dedicated to our mission. We are blessed also with a proven model, developed over many years, that is poised to scale.
The Pulitzer Center serves global public-interest journalism in a way few organizations can—by engaging wide audiences on deeply reported topics and inspiring the next generation to value credible news and cross-cultural understanding.
- We support more than 150 reporting projects, resulting in more than 600 stories
- We award $2 million in support to journalists through direct grants and participation in our educational programming
- We partner with more than 150 news outlets, from The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, and The New Yorker to Vice, The Guardian, and National Geographic–with an increasing focus on U.S. regional and local outlets to ensure we are reaching diverse audiences
- We organize 700-plus events each year with K-12 schools, colleges, and the public, plus annual conferences focused on themes like gender, religion, and justice.
- We have formal partnerships with 38 colleges and universities, providing on-campus journalist visits and reporting fellowships for students through our Campus Consortium.
Pulitzer Center reporting projects have won Emmys, George Polk Awards, National Magazine Awards, Overseas Press Club Awards, Peabody Awards, BAFTA, and Pulitzer Prizes.
The Pulitzer Center fills a vital gap in coverage of the issues that matter most. Editors and journalists say that without our support these kinds of stories simply wouldn’t happen. Our mission has never been more urgent: to support accurate, responsible journalism and to do everything we can to engage all people, across the political spectrum and the divides of class, race, and religion.
Our response to the coronavirus pandemic has been a compelling demonstration of our model’s power. We’ve already committed over $500,000 in emergency grants for the reporting alone, and have shifted resources on education and public outreach to focus on the immediate needs of educators and the public. In making these commitments to journalism, and to the related educational activities described above, we are drawing on the Pulitzer Center’s limited pool of dollars for general operational support. With additional support we can do so much more!
We are serving the journalists, news media organizations, schools and universities we collaborate with by continuing to advance our core mission: enabling great journalism and education about underreported and systemic global issues that resonate now–and continue to have relevance in times ahead.
We look forward to the opportunity to work with foundations and other donors who share our commitment to addressing, now, the urgent challenges we face.
“We will illuminate dark places and, with a deep sense of responsibility, interpret these troubled times.”
—Joseph Pulitzer III (1913-1993)