TACOMA, Washington — The Pulitzer Center is a nonprofit that gives freelance journalists and students a platform and funding to pursue specific projects. The organization focuses on global issues outside the spotlight in a new age of social media and the internet. Its mission is to promote quality journalism, education and public outreach.
The Pulitzer Center
The Pulitzer Center works to be the go-to home for information about the world’s current biggest crises. Journalists travel all around the world for stories focused on everything from public health to climate change. The Center connects small ambitious journalists focused on in-depth reporting with outlets and large audiences. Donating to the nonprofit provides funding for aspiring journalists to go into the field and conduct essential reporting. Now, it supports around 200 projects a year and partners with major news organizations. It showcases its journalism in mediums from documentaries to e-books.
Jon Sawyer, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch bureau chief, created The Pulitzer Center in 2006. Sawyer was devoted to starting an organization that prioritized giving independent journalists a voice while empowering them. His drive to begin the Center contributed to the preservation of investigative, public-awareness journalism, even on topics that major networks or organizations couldn’t report on.
Partner Organizations and The Pulitzer Center’s Goals
The Pulitzer Center offers about $2 million in grants and has partnered with National Geographic, NPR, The Associated Press and The New York Times during the past 10 years. The Center also offers free lesson plans, reading guides, and classroom opportunities to teach America’s youth about global issues and meaningful journalism. The Center sends journalists to meet and talk with middle and high school classrooms in order to inspire young minds.
The Pulitzer Center’s Communications Director Jeff Barrus explained to The Borgen Project the organization’s mission: The Pulitzer Center “funds journalism to go out into the world” and provides grant funding to enable reporting “on underreported stories on systemic cris[es]” like “racial justice, global poverty, health and climate change.” Once reporting takes place, the Pulitzer Center “connect[s]journalists and their stories to [outlets and]students around the country.”
Barrus added that The Pulitzer Center’s recent projects included partnering with Science Magazine to report regularly on COVID-19 and supporting a local San Francisco news outlet, Mission Local, with its serial reporting on immigration and the pandemic in San Francisco. The Pulitzer Center also partnered with Abrahm Lustgarten on “The Great Climate Migration” for The New York Times Magazine. It further serves as the education partner for The New York Times 1619 Project.
Programs and Awards
The Pulitzer Center’s education programs support K-12 students who aim to learn about global issues, big and small. The Center allows for students to participate in field reporting, idea generation, discussion and the spreading of awareness and stories. The Center’s fellows can work with professional journalists and uncover issues in their own communities as well.
The Pulitzer Center, according to the National Press Foundation, has received an Emmy award, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, an Investigative Reporters & Editors Gold Medal and an Asia Society/Goldman Sachs Foundation Prize. Additionally, founder Jon Sawyer received the National Press Club’s award for best foreign reporting three times in as many years following his post-9/11 work in the Middle East.
The Center’s current publications highlight COVID-19 related issues such as public health, unequal mortality rates, vaccinations, gender inequality and more. In a world that’s rapidly changing on nearly every axis, quality journalism informs and prepares the public for the future. The Pulitzer Center’s work supports journalists from all paths of life to make this possible. As Barrus explains, the key to becoming a journalist is to report on a story that deserves more attention and then capture it from a new and interesting angle.
– Lauren Peacock