Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity


Views from the Center


This is a joint post with Katherine Douglas and Sandy Stonesifer.

(Left to right) Katherine Douglas, Nicholas Kristof, Sandy Stonesifer, Ben EdwardsAfter three months, 893 applications, and a lot of effort by bright university students across the United States, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof selected Nebraska native Mitch Smith to join him on a reporting trip to Africa.

Those of you who entered or follow the yearly Win-a-Trip contest know that Nick asked CGD to vet the first round of applications. We jumped at the opportunity to lend some elbow grease to Nick’s contest and quickly realized how persuasively and passionately these students communicated about poverty and development.

We spent long afternoons reading each essay and watching each video – often many times over – to distinguish the really good candidates, from the really, really good candidates. We don’t envy Nick’s task of choosing just one student out of the short list of qualified finalists we turned over to him.

After Nick announced the winner in his column today, he visited CGD for a private discussion with our staff and special guests. The discussion touched on many areas of development, humanitarianism, journalism, and communication. Nick concluded on a slightly somber note, stating that as the mainstream media shrinks, development coverage will continue to decline:

“If you want information about eastern Congo, then increasingly you’re going to go to some combination of advocacy organizations and think tanks to get that information.”

Nick urged advocacy organizations and think tanks to improve how they communicate their valuable research and policy recommendations as it becomes the public’s main source of information about poverty and development. When the university students who entered the Win-a-Trip contest graduate, we hope they bring fresh ideas that help us in our continued efforts to promote development policy.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.