By bringing to light under-reported issues, promoting high-quality international reporting and creating platforms that reach broad and diverse audiences, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has continued to excel in giving voice to the neglected and the ignored, thereby empowering independent journalism.
To discuss the opportunities and challenges facing reporters in the Middle East, Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q), tomorrow, is hosting three prominent journalists from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Katherine Zoepf, Jon Sawyer and Kem Knapp Sawyer will explore the theme ‘Beyond Reporting: Bringing Middle East Stories to Life’ during a forum at NU-Q.
Established in 2006, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting is an innovative award-winning non-profit journalism organisation dedicated to “supporting the independent international journalism that US media organisations are increasingly less able to undertake.” The Center says that its educational programmes “provide students with fresh information on global issues, help them think critically about the creation and dissemination of news, and inspire them to become active consumers and producers of information.”
“The Pulitzer Center is a bold initiative, in keeping with its deep ties to the family whose name for more than a century has been a watchword for journalistic independence, integrity, and courage,” says a note about the Center on its website, “When Joseph Pulitzer III became editor of the St Louis Post-Dispatch a half century ago, he paid tribute to that legacy. ‘Not only will we report the day’s news,’ he said, ‘but we will illuminate dark places and, with a deep sense of responsibility, interpret these troubled times.’ The Pulitzer Center is driven by that same mission and deep sense of responsibility, in times just as troubled.”
A Pulitzer Center grantee and fellow of the New America Foundation, Katherine Zoepf has spent more than a decade living, travelling, and writing in the Arab world for a range of prestigious New York publications. From 2004 to 2007, Zoepf lived in Syria and Lebanon while working as a stringer for The New York Times.
She also worked in The Times’ Baghdad bureau in 2008. Her writings have appeared in the New York Observer, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times Magazine, and the New Yorker, among other publications.
In addition to the main forum, Zoepf will present her new book, Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of the Young Women Who are Transforming the Arab World at a separate NU-Q event.
Jon Sawyer is the executive director of the Pulitzer Center. A highly distinguished journalist who has reported from conflict zones including Afghanistan, Sudan, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Iran, Sawyer is a former Washington bureau chief for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He has reported from five dozen countries around the world and is a three-time winner of the National Press Club prize for best foreign correspondence, and has received numerous other honours and awards.
Kem Knapp Sawyer is an author and contributing editor at the Pulitzer Center. Her books for young people include biographies of Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Gandhi, Anne Frank, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Apart from her work as an editor and mentor for the university student fellows who receive international reporting grants, she also edits Untold Stories and e-books for the Pulitzer Center – most recently Flight from Syria: Refugee Stories. Her reporting projects include writing on children at risk in Congo, Haiti, Bangladesh, and India. Kem co-authored the Congo’s Children e-book with Jon Sawyer.
“Journalism is a profession that is engaged in a public service – the free flow of information and ideas – and at NU-Q students are encouraged to step outside the classroom and learn from experienced journalists and writers,” said Dr Everette E Dennis, Dean and CEO of NU-Q. “This is a great chance not only for them, but for anyone interested in how news is reported in the Middle East today.”
The forum and book discussion mark NU-Q’s latest collaboration with the Pulitzer Center, which also offers an annual fellowship for its most promising students. The Pulitzer Center is known to work with some of the most experienced foreign correspondents while also nurturing a new generation of international reporters.
Meanwhile, NU-Q will host high school students in Qatar (in grades 9 to 12) for three Saturday sessions on investigative reporting; on February 20, 27, and March 5, from 10am to 2pm.
SHAPING THOUGHTS: Jon Sawyer and Kem Knapp Sawyer during a lecture at the Flagler College Forum on Government and Public Policy, last year.