The investigation has successfully discovered that since 2017, China has built more than 260 structures.
Buzzfeed News awarded with a Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting their investigation into long-term detention and prison located in China. Senior writer Megha Rajagopalan and contributors Alison Killing, a licensed architect, and Christo Buschek, a programmer and digital security educator, put together the four-part series called “Built to Last.”
This is the first Pulitzer for Buzzfeed News. This project was also a finalist in the Explanatory Reporting category in the same award.
This trio discovered more than 260 structures constructed since 2017, evidenced by public satellite images, along with dozens of interviews with former inmates.
According to Buzzfeed News, these prison and tenement camps were secretly built by China as a part of a campaign against Uyghur Muslims, despite officially claiming that all prisoners had been released.
In the Pulitzer announcement, the project was described as “a series of clear and compelling stories that use satellite imagery and architectural expertise, as well as interviews with two dozen former prisoners, to identify a vast new infrastructure built by the Chinese government for the mass detention of Muslims.”
On Friday afternoon, Rajagopalan said that this news completely shocks her to an email sent to Poynter.
She said she is grateful to her reporting team, editor, Buzzfeed New, and organizations supporting their project. But, most of all, she is deeply grateful to the detainees who shared their experiences inside Xinjiang’s camps.
According to Buzzfeed, Rajagopalan visited an internment camp when China first started detaining Muslims in Xinjiang. But at that time, the country denied such locations, and the journalist was later forced out of China.
Killing told Poynter via Zoom call from the Netherlands, where she is currently based, that she was shocked and pleased that they’ve won. She said that it’s will help to raise the attention of what’s happening in Xinjiang.
Buschek, who was reached via email on Friday, said the win felt unreal. He even has to double-check when Killing told him about the announcement.
The Open Technology Fund, the Pulitzer Center, and the Eyebeam Center for the Future of Journalism all contributed to “Built to Last.”