Pulitzer Center will offer grant to selected SMPA student

Correction appended

A newly formed partnership with the Pulitzer Center will offer one student in the School of Media and Public Affairs “the chance of a lifetime,” the school’s director announced last week.

SMPA Director Frank Sesno said the partnership will offer a selected SMPA student $10,000 to allow him or her the opportunity to travel almost anywhere in the world to cover an under-reported issue not conveyed in mainstream U.S. media.

“A student will be able to have the experience to develop, pursue and report a story from a potentially far away and very important part of the world,” Sesno said of the partnership. “It is a tremendous portfolio opportunity and outstanding experience. I know that such a thing was not available when I was in school.”

In 2009, students from the University of North Carolina, Ohio State University, Kent State University, and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale covered topics ranging from malnutrition in central Africa, women’s rights in Bangladesh and climate change in Copenhagen, said Ann Peters, the Pulitzer Center’s director of development and outreach. GW is one of more than a half dozen schools partnering with the Pulitzer Center. The group is called the Campus Consortium.

“Their work takes them significantly farther than they expect. It is all part of a larger framework of increasing the quality and quantity of unreported global issues,” Peters said of the selected students.

Sesno, who said he has been looking to build key partnerships for students to benefit from, added that, “Pulitzer brings both the substance and the stature that sets SMPA apart, providing an opportunity for remarkable prestige and profile while incorporating the level of excellence and opportunity that represents what SMPA is all about.”

Accepted students take part in broadcasting global concerns to American audiences in a variety of forms, learning how to project a story on a multitude of platforms, Peters said. She added that the participants have taken stories and developed them into videos distributed globally via the Internet and networks like the Public Broadcasting Service.

Students who have already had their opportunity with Campus Consortium have noted that it was a “great way to take the issue in their own hands and dig deeper into it,” Peters said.

By treating the student in the same respect as they do their own journalists, Pulitzer helps launch the student’s professional career, giving him or her significant experience in the field of journalism, Peters added. Students must pitch their own story and craft that story through the lens of a professional.

“I was a journalism student and worked for my college newspaper, but at the same time moving from the school to professional journalism is a leap that we must make as journalists, and we hope to help students benefit in doing so,” Peters said.

Correction appended (April 8, 2010)

The article originally referenced GW alumnus Anders Gyllenhaal, who is the chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board. The board is not related to the Pulitzer Center, and the paragraph referencing Gyllenhaal has been removed.

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