Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism Initiative Goes Deep

By | Mar 15, 2023
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Moment is dedicated to fighting hate in all forms. As part of this effort, we long ago created the Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism Initiative (DPIJI), named in memory of the journalist who was abducted and murdered in Pakistan in 2002 by terrorists while he was reporting a story for The Wall St. Journal. The DPIJI, a true labor of love, provides funding to journalists to cover what is often unseen—the workings of prejudice and bigotry. Since its founding, the initiative has exposed deeply ingrained prejudices around the world before they have become well known. “Our son Danny has come to symbolize both the power and nobleness of principled journalism and the rising dangers of the hatred that took his life,” says Daniel’s father Judea Pearl, the world-renowned computer scientist, author and activist against hate. “The Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism Initiative harnesses the former to combat the latter and will lead us a step closer to Danny’s ideal of a hate-free world.”

We are incredibly proud of the groundbreaking stories that the DPIJI has supported and that Moment has published over the years, and we are beyond delighted that one of these stories helped give birth to a book, The Inheritors by Eve Fairbanks, that just won PEN/America’s 2023 John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction! Fairbanks’s 2013 DPIJI story, “A House Divided,” delved into the choice of university students in South Africa to resegregate and, like the book, illuminated that country’s still troubled relationship with race. PEN/America’s judges called The Inheritors “an intimate exploration of life after apartheid that looks beyond the broader issues of politics and economics” and is a “vivid portrait of a country in flux.”

As we learned in a recent MomentLive! broadcast featuring Fairbanks and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and DPIJI advisory board member Glenn Frankel, the book also contains lessons for Americans about race and reconciliation. Support from the Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism Initiative allowed Fairbanks, a freelancer based in Johannesburg on a continent that gets less coverage than it deserves in American mainstream media, to dive into a topic and come up with nuance. “The DPIJI Fellowship goes above and beyond other similar reporting grants in the partnership with experienced editors—my editing partners helped take my piece from routine to outstanding,” Fairbanks says. “The efforts the Moment staff made to publicize my story helped it get one of the biggest audiences of any story of my career, setting me up to get more great work.”

Other powerful, prescient pieces produced by DPIJI include “An Inconvenient Genocide: Why We Don’t Know More About the Uyghurs” by Tom Gjelten, published in the fall of 2021. In the 1930s, America failed to stand up to Nazi actions against the Jews, and the story asks if history is repeating itself with the persecution of the Uyghur minority in China’s Xinjiang region. This framing makes the current crisis more understandable and gives it urgency, and the story has won an array of major awards, which has helped lead more people and organizations to take on the cause of the Uyhgurs.

In 2020, John Beck, a Scottish-born journalist who is now covering Ukraine, exposed massacres, kidnappings and displacement faced by the Yazidi religious minority in Iraq in “The Yazidis: A Faith Without A Future for DPIJI. In 2018, a young Pakistani journalist, Taha Anis, bravely wrote “Persecuted in Pakistan,” about the Ahmadi  religious minority in Pakistan that is increasingly facing persecution. And May Jeong’s 2017 story, “Strangers in their Own Land,” about Buddhist nationalists turning on their Muslim neighbors, was way before its time. Since then the situation in Sri Lanka has deteriorated further. Life has also gotten worse for many Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, as detailed in Cameron Conway’s 2016 DPIJI story, “Shadows in the Golden Land.

You can find all the DPIJI stories at dpiji.org, including ones that explore anti-Jewish hatred. As this worthy project teaches us, hate and prejudice can be found in every era, in every corner of the world. We need to tell the hard stories so that we can better understand and take action. Stay tuned, as more DPIJI stories are in the works.

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