Pulitzer Center Update

This Week in Review: Arab Spring Awakening

Image by Ty McCormick. Egypt, 2011.

It has been a year since the self-immolation of a frustrated young Tunisian vegetable seller ignited what came to be called the Arab Spring. Across the region, young people, fed up with corrupt, incompetent governments, took to the streets and demanded change. Regimes fell in Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Syria may be next.

Documentary filmmaker Jessie Deeter, who spent time in Tunisia at the start of the Arab Spring, returned to the country this month on a Pulitzer Center grant to report for PBS NewsHour. Her plan was to catch up with some of the young activists she met last year and to see where their revolution was heading. What she found was a country “deep in the process of discovering what it means to govern itself.”

Egypt is in the midst of a similar process of self-discovery. Islamist parties, which came to power in free elections, are trying to wrest control from the army generals who seized the initiative after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. Egypt’s artists, meanwhile, are enjoying a new era of free expression that would have been impossible to imagine during the Mubarak years. But will it last? Pulitzer Center grantee Ty McCormick, in a story for Newsweek, writes that “one year on, Egypt’s revolution has opened up space for more criticism of the cultural status quo, but it has also opened the door to other, deeply conservative forces that see much of the recent art as an affront to religion.”


We were profoundly saddened to learn of the death this week of New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid from an apparent asthma attack while on assignment in Syria. Anthony, who served on our advisory council, was a gifted reporter and generous colleague who will be mourned by everyone who cares about journalism. We extend our condolences to his family and friends.


This year’s competition for the Persephone Miel Fellowship drew close to 200 applicants. The fellowship, overseen by the Pulitzer Center in collaboration with Internews, is designed to help media professionals outside of the United States do the kind of reporting they've always wanted to do, and enable them to bring their work to a broader international audience. We will announce the winner on March 15.

Until next week,

Tom Hundley
Senior Editor