This quarter we are highlighting the Pulitzer Center-supported work by journalists who are reporting on artificial intelligence and with AI in communities around the world.
This is no techno-solutionism or doomsday predictions, but the hard, unglamorous work of reporting, documenting, and communicating the harms that automated systems are already causing to some of the least privileged members of society.
The reporting has had tremendous impact—from courts ruling entire programs unconstitutional to governments opening investigations or deciding to stop the deployment of new algorithms—in part because international regulatory frameworks are weak or haven’t yet been developed. In a way, journalists and civil society groups are ahead of regulators on AI, exposing what happens when tech innovation fails to place humans at the center of its designs.
Some of the journalists’ most meaningful work happened after their stories ran, when they engaged with students across college campuses that had been surveilled by an AI tool; discussed with high schoolers how they can critically assess AI technologies they interact with daily; and widely shared their data and methods so more journalists can report about AI with skill, nuance, and impact.
More than 80 young poets from around the world used our AI reporting for inspiration in the works they submitted to the Pulitzer Center's annual Fighting Words Poetry Contest.
To AI’s “black box” realities, we respond with radical transparency and data sharing. Our recently launched Toolkits and Tips page aspires to be the most comprehensive hub for AI reporting blueprints. There, you can also learn how the journalists in our network have used machine learning—a subset of AI—to solve big journalistic problems, such as mapping illegal airstrips and gold mining sites in the Amazon rainforest.
Other highlights of our work in this report include our global Climate and Labor Conference, which gathered journalists, academics, and social movement leaders in Coimbra, Portugal; the launch of our third cohort of 1619 Project teacher Fellows; and the photo exhibition Mekong Discovery Days, part of Cambodia’s International Film Festival.
Explore more highlights below! Thank you for your support, and we welcome your feedback, as always.
MARINA Walker Guevara, Executive Editor
So far in 2023, we supported
127 projects • 193 journalists • in 83 countries
resulting in more than 500 stories
This four-part series, published in French and English, gives an unprecedented view into the motivations and corruption behind artisanal cutting and smuggling of timber in Cameroon. The country’s Ministry of Forestry published an official response asking for more diligence in the control and transport of forestry products.
Emmanuel Yaba, a retired driver, fears losing his home in Bella, southern Cameroon. Image by Josiane Kouagheu. Cameroon, 2022.
An investigation led by AI Fellow Gabriel Geiger exposed how Rotterdam’s welfare fraud risk scoring system discriminates based on ethnicity and gender. In response, the Netherlands city announced that it has abandoned plans to build a new algorithm that checks for social welfare fraud.
Unpublished documents and inside sources give rare look into secretive AI system used to decide who is shirking work. Illustration courtesy of Lighthouse Reports. Spain, 2023.
A visually stunning, wise, and eloquent portrait of the drag scene in Cumberland, Maryland, that grantee Rae Garringer says “affirms for myself and other rural queers that we do exist in places like my home, that we always have.” The Pulitzer Center is participating in the city of Cumberland's celebration of its resilient drag legacy in a series of exhibitions and performances later this summer.
Cumberland, MD queen Andy Darling poses for the camera. Image by Michael O. Snyder. United States, 2022.
AI Fellow Varsha Bansal revealed how faulty facial recognition technology locked Indian drivers out of gig work platforms. Her investigation inspired India’s gig worker union to collect their own data to file petitions against the platforms.
An Uber driver by profession, Shaik Salauddin has become a quasi-celebrity as a gig industry organizer working to help improve the working conditions of his peers. Image by Selvaprakash Lakshmanan. India, 2022.
This film is an extraordinary look at Colombia's struggle to hold its military accountable for killing thousands of people and falsely claiming they were armed insurgents. Reporters traveled widely to gather testimony and witnessed a meeting between a colonel and victims' families.
A family grieves at the burial site of some of the innocent civilians who were murdered by the Colombian military. Image courtesy of Al Jazeera Fault Lines. Colombia.
Explore our new AI reporting resources page. This space is dedicated to transparency of methods in projects we support. Learn how the Associated Press investigated global impacts of AI and check out toolkits, webinars, and opportunities for reporting on and with AI.
A man is silhouetted against a wall as he looks down at his cellphone outside the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on July 29, 2021, in Los Angeles. Image by Chris Pizzello/Associated Press.
The support and involvement of the Pulitzer Center made a significant difference for my project on the poor menstrual health of Kashmir's tribal women. It provided essential financial backing, helping me to dedicate extensive time and resources to in-depth research, on-the-ground reporting, and data collection. This support was crucial in shedding light on a critical issue that had long been overlooked.
PULITZER center GRANTEE
This year’s 44 Campus Consortium Reporting Fellows will travel to 27 countries, including Mongolia, Sierra Leone, Cyprus, and Singapore. The Fellows participated in a virtual orientation in June. They will pursue stories in various media related to climate change, gender and identity, global health, and peace and conflict.
Image by Lucille Crelli. 2023.
While many see artificial intelligence as a threat to the arts community, our Hampton University Reporting Fellow, Christian Thomas, will travel to Japan to examine how artists can thrive with artificial intelligence in creative spaces.
While the world attempts to navigate new technological advancements, Thomas's project will focus on Japan's model for using technology to enhance creativity. Image by Alexa Steinbrück / Better Images of AI.
We also selected the 2023 Post-Graduate Reporting Fellows—10 from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and two from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Their projects will take them to Japan, Palestine, El Salvador, Italy, and the English Channel.
Image by Lucille Crelli. 2023.
All the Alums shared great pieces of advice, and they are still kind of fresh off of their experience, so their advice felt very current and practical.
Glendale Community College Reporting Fellow speaking about orientation
63 events reaching more than 3,455 people
During a visit to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, grantee Erica Ayisi delivered a public lecture about issues affecting Black people around the world, drawing on her Pulitzer Center-supported project on the global hair trade and sea level rise in Ghana.
Hair pieces on display at a salon in Phnom Penh. Image by Paula Bronstein. Cambodia, 2019.
The Pulitzer Center opened opportunities at yet another Consortium of Universities for Global Health Annual Conference for health professionals and other experts to engage with journalists. Through a film festival and a communications workshop, they explored ways to incorporate personal angles into research communications, shift narratives of power, and find avenues to work together.
An audience member asks panelists a question during the Communication Workshop at the CUGH annual conference. Image by Mikaela Schmitt. United States, 2023.
I am so grateful to the Pulitzer Center for providing our students the opportunity to learn from and interact with such established and interesting journalists. Getting those real-world interactions are so important for opening up the world of possibilities that exist for them post-graduation.
director of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University, the Pulitzer Center’s newest Campus Consortium partner
Meral Jamal, the Pulitzer Center’s 2023 Persephone Miel Fellow, joined filmmaker Stephen Smith and polar oceanographer Chris Horvat for a virtual conversation about Smith’s documentary, Beneath the Polar Sun. Jamal’s fellowship project focuses on the effect of changing snow conditions on people living in the High Arctic.
According to the Inuk elder Margaret Kanayok, ‘pukak’–snow with bigger grains at the bottom–makes a distinct sound as you walk over it. Image by Meral Jamal. Canada, 2023.
This spring, Garance Burke and Serginho Roosblad, an investigative reporting team behind the Pulitzer Center-supported project Tracked, traveled to San Diego State University to teach students how to report on artificial intelligence.
Case work supervisor Jessie Schemm, in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, looks over the first screen of software used by workers who field calls at an intake call screening center for the Allegheny County Children and Youth Services. Image by Keith Srakocic/Associated Press.
Engaging Global Audiences
Hosted at the University of Coimbra in April, the 2023 Climate and Labor Conference gathered over 30 journalists, academics, researchers, and social movement leaders from 16 nationalities to spark a discussion on the intersection between climate change and labor rights, as well as the relationships between gender, health, rainforests, ocean, global power, and social justice.
Over 550 people from 55 countries attended online across two conference days. In a survey, ninety-five percent of the audience said that the conference sessions improved their knowledge about climate and labor issues. A Conference Impact Report has more on our results, achievements, and learning processes.
The Congo Basin Talks with Young Professionals initiative expanded in Cameroon, with two participative radio shows held in May and June. The Pulitzer Center partnered with Magic FM, a local radio station airing in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital city, with a reach up to 150 kilometers around the city. Twenty-eight people called in to make comments during the live shows, with topics covering deforestation and forest governance. Listen to the first radio show in Cameroon (in French).
Jean Paul Diouala Mkpala, chief of the village Mekoua. Image by The Museba Project. Cameroon, 2022.
The event Mekong Discovery Days brought to the public a digital photo exhibition and a series of films related to the lives and cultures of Indigenous peoples in Cambodia and Indonesia. The event took place at the 12th Cambodia International Film Festival and was attended by nearly 300 high school students, not to mention other walk-ins.
Rainforest Investigations Fellow Anton L. Delgado speaks to a crowd at the 12th Cambodia International Film Festival. Image courtesy of Anton L. Delgado. Cambodia, 2023.
A series of webinars as part of the #OurAmazon campaign launched in June with its first online conversation, “Using Artificial Intelligence To Protect the Amazon: Challenges and Solutions for the Future of Our Forest.” More than 600 people registered and nearly 200 participants joined the online conversation.
Environmental defender Betikre Tapayuna Metuktire speaks about his fight against illegal mining in the Xingú Indigenous territory. Image courtesy of AmazoniaLab. 2023.
I love your weekly newsletters, they make me feel closer [to the forest]. Thanks to the information I receive every week, I have been able to convince other people about the need to conserve and reduce our ecological footprint.
Amazonia Lab Subscriber
131 events • 7 curricular resources
reaching more than 5,408 students
and over 398 teachers
Fifty-two schools in over 35 states hosted virtual classroom visits that connected 88 Pulitzer Center-supported journalists directly to thousands of students for discussions about their reporting. Among the speakers were AI Accountability Network Fellows Arijit Douglas Sen, who talked to students about his reporting on how colleges used AI to monitor student protests, and Lydia Emmanouilidou, who shared her work on the use of technology for surveillance along the U.S.-Mexico border and in Europe’s refugee camps.
Image: A student participates in the "Belonging and Memory in Athens, GA" unit. Image courtesy of Joy Village School. United States, 2023.
Our sixth annual Fighting Words Poetry Contest received a record-breaking 1,675 entries from students in 13 countries, 36 U.S. states, and Washington, D.C. An additional 800 students participated in 31 poetry workshops. Artificial intelligence accountability featured prominently among the diverse issues that students highlighted through their poems.
One of the winning poems included lines from the Pulitzer Center webinar "Memory and Protest of Femicide in Juárez." Image by Elliott Adams. 2023.
Fighting Words reinforced my social justice focus within my curriculum. It provided a good opportunity for students to engage in artivism and use their student voices towards advocacy for spotlighting under-reported issues.
high school teacher in NEW JERSEY
We closed our second cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network with teams of teachers producing 45 new unit plans to expand our curricular resource collection. We also onboarded the 2023 Network cohort, which includes educators working in K-12 and higher education spaces.
Image: Student work from the "Composition, Context, Representation, and Reality" unit. Image courtesy of the Radical ReVision cohort. United States, 2023.
Eighty-three young poets, including one of this year's finalists, responded to a story about AI in the annual Fighting Words student poetry contest. Their work reflects thoughtfully on the impact of AI technology on gig workers' safety, women and girls' body image, the spread of misinformation, and more. Read about how students used poetry to interrogate artificial intelligence here.
Image: Gianluca Mauro’s LinkedIn post showing two women in tube tops received only 29 views in one hour compared to 849 views when a different image was used. Image by Gianluca Mauro/The Guardian. United Kingdom, 2023.
Engaging Students and Educators Outside the U.S.
The first rainforest seminar series in Indonesia took place in June, through a partnership with the Research Center for Climate Change (RCCC) of Universitas Indonesia and Roemah Inspirit. The main material for the discussions were stories by Ahmad Arif on gastro-colonialism and a community living in a forest in Merauke, and Prayugo Utomo’s story on supporting the welfare of forest communities in Northern Sumatra through coffee production. Eighty students took part in the discussion. In parallel, featuring 20 photos from five RJF projects, the Contemplation for Forest photo exhibition attracted 600 students.
Students brainstorm during a rainforest seminar. Image by Indra Pradana. Indonesia, 2023.
Congo Basin Hub teachers organized 21 workshops to discuss content inspired by Rainforest Journalism Fund and Rainforest Investigations Network stories with their students. Educator reports from schools in Goma, Kisangani, and Kinshasa show that 2,116 students—including 981 girls—took part in the workshops.
Teachers, school directors, and representatives of the Ministry of Education met to discuss how to integrate underreported stories into their curriculum. Image by Patrick Mangala. DRC, 2022.
A new episode of the illustrated comic Les Explorateurs was published in French. This new episode inspires young students not only to consider the role of journalism in the community, but also to seek out and promote quality information. This new issue is accompanied by a quiz to guide discussions with readers.
This comic book is inspired by the article "The Colonial Network of Palm Oil Plantations in the Democratic Republic of Congo," supported by the Pulitzer Center's Rainforest Investigations Network (RIN). Illustration by Aris Aloko. 2023.
I really loved how interactive the discussions were. As the participants not only we’re gaining new perspectives and knowledge about the deforestation from the journalists and researchers, but we’re also invited to express what we feel, what we knew, and how we empathize towards to the stories and cases. Therefore it creates meaningful impression and easy to remember.
Reffi Rasbina Munthe
Student Group of Social Community and Environment
Faculty of Life Sciences, Universitas Indonesia
16 awards and citations received in Q2
Grantee Ankur Paliwal won the 2023 One World Media Environmental Impact Award for his Pulitzer Center-supported story “‘It Was a Set-Up, We Were Fooled’: The Coal Mine That Ate an Indian Village.” The Environmental Impact Award recognizes the best media that explores the relationship between people and the planet.
A woman preparing the mud floor of her home in Hasdeo Arand. Image by Anindito Mukherjee. India, 2022.
The Pulitzer Center-supported report "How the Race for a COVID Vaccine Enriched Monkey Poachers and Endangered Macaques" won a 2023 Dateline Award in the Television-Investigative Journalism category. The story was a collaboration between the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigations Network, NBC News, and the Southeast Asia Globe, reported by a team that included RIN Fellows Andrew Lehren and Anton Delgado.
Illustration by Carolina Moscoso/NBC News. 2023.
Grantee Alice Driver won a 2023 James Beard Foundation Media Award for her Center-supported story, “Tyson Says Its Nurses Help Workers. Critics Charge They Stymie OSHA.” The James Beard Foundation, also known for its prestigious awards for chefs and restaurants in the U.S., designates standout cookbooks, broadcast media, and journalism on the food industry and food culture.
An anonymous worker from Guatemala, wearing a Tyson-branded wristwatch, has worked at the Tyson Foods plant in Green Forest, Arkansas, for years. She needs carpal tunnel surgery in both arms. Image by Jacky Muniello/Civil Eats. United States, 2022.
[Pulitzer Center] provided crucial financial support for the year-long post-reporting production of the film and interactive web feature, which are the most ambitious multimedia projects The New Yorker has ever undertaken.
PULITZER CENTER GRANTEE speaking about Reeducated (Peabody Award 2023 Winner)
Highlights of Our Efforts To Advance DEI Through Center Programs
The visit was fantastic and accessible, inclusive and equitable for all learners.
5th grade science educator in Washington, D.C. speaking about her experience with a journalist visit for students
Highlights of Our Efforts To Advance DEI Through Our Organizational Practices
These numbers represent self-reported data from the journalists who received funding for 102 reporting projects approved from January 2023 to June 2023.
K-12 PROGRAM PRESENTERS
These numbers represent self-reported data from the journalists and educators who took part in 160 presentations for teachers and students hosted by the K-12 Education team during the first half of 2023.
CAMPUS & PUBLIC EVENTS
These numbers represent self-reported data from the journalists who took part in 141 events hosted by the Campus Consortium and Public Outreach team during the first half of 2023.
2023 STUDENT REPORTING FELLOWS
Support for the Pulitzer Center this year came from Art for Justice Fund, Arnold Ventures, our Campus Consortium partner schools, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Facebook Journalism Project, Fore River Foundation, Hartfield Foundation, Henry L. Kimelman Family Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Humanity United, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Julian Grace Foundation, Laudes Foundation, Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, One Earth Fund, Open Society Foundations, PIMCO Foundation, Poklon Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Trellis Charitable Fund, Walton Family Foundation, and Wellspring Philanthropic Fund.
This broad mix of foundation funding, along with continued core support from members of the Pulitzer family, board members, and many other generous individuals, ensures the independent journalism and education that is essential to our mission in these times. We are grateful to all who continue to sustain our work. We hope that others will join.