Pulitzer Center Update

This Week: Through The Wire


As President Obama and other world leaders register disgust and dismay at the Egyptian military’s massacre of hundreds of non-violent protesters, an equally brutal conflict in Syria continues to take a heavy toll on that benighted country’s civilian population. An estimated 1.5 million Syrians have already fled their homes, taking refuge in neighboring countries. The UN estimates that their numbers could grow to 3.5 million by year’s end.

Pulitzer Center grantees Hugh Eakin and Alisa Roth traveled to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, the countries that have absorbed the brunt of the refugee crisis. They note that each of these countries has legitimate concerns that the influx of refugees could allow the Syrian conflict to spill across borders. But conflict also makes for strange bedfellows, and in a blog for The New York Review of Books, Hugh writes about one of the more paradoxical consequences of the Syrian conflict: Hezbollah, the militant Shia group in Lebanon has entered the war on the side of the Syrian regime, but freely offers humanitarian aid to opponents of the regime who have fled to Lebanon.

“[W]hile the war has deeply divided the Middle East, the refugee crisis it has produced is forcing the opposing sides to work together outside Syria’s borders—above all in Lebanon, a tiny, fractious country with large Sunni and Shia populations and especially complicated ties to Syria,” he says.

Meanwhile, Alisa, reporting from southern Turkey for public radio’s Marketplace, says the Turkish government “is still helping the more than half a million people who have arrived since the Syrian conflict began two years ago. But there is a sense the welcome may be wearing thin.” According to Alisa, “some Turks are starting to get anxious—that the Syrians are taking scarce jobs, and driving up real estate prices.”


“Last October, at the foot of a rocky hillside near here, at a spot known as Degelen Mountain, several dozen Kazakh, Russian and American nuclear scientists and engineers gathered for a ceremony. After a few speeches, they unveiled a three-sided stone monument, etched in English, Russian and Kazakh, which declared:

“1996-2012. The world has become safer.”

The remarkable story behind that inscription is told for the first time this week by Pulitzer Center grantees David Hoffman and Eben Harrell in a thoroughly researched feature for The Washington Post and a peer-reviewed monograph for Harvard’s Belfer Center. It is the story of how a group of scientists overcame government inertia and lingering Cold War mistrust to secure a cache of plutonium before it fell into the hands of the nuclear black market. David and Eben have produced a gripping read and journalism of the highest order.


“Meltdown,” a new multimedia e-book by Sean Gallagher published by the Pulitzer Center, is a visually stunning report on some of China’s most pressing environmental issues. Sean is an award-winning photographer whose love for the environment and China comes through in poignant stories and images. The book will be available starting August 20 from the iBookstore, Amazon and Creatavist.