Freelance reporter Vince Beiser meets with students to discuss journalism, social justice

To begin his presentation, freelance investigative journalist Vince Beiser projected a simple photo of sand on the screen.

“Everything, all over the world, is made out of sand.”The war on sand.jpg

Beiser presented to Elon University students on Monday morning about his current work funded by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting on what he calls the deadly war on sand.

Sand is the basis for bricks, concrete, windows, glass, computer silicon and so many other substances we use daily. Most of the sand in the world is being used to create concrete, which is what most of our cities are made out of.

According to Beiser, we are building cities across the world at an alarming rate. The demand for sand is high, and though it’s the most common natural resource in the world, we are quickly running out of it. This has led to illegal sand mining and thus, the war on sand.

“People are dying over sand,” Beiser said.

In addition to pitching and publishing stories on this topic to many major news publications, Beiser is currently working on a book for Penguin-Random House on the global impact of this deadly war on sand.

Before pursuing this topic, Beiser sought out stories around the world and uncovered injustices for major media outlets such as The New York Times, Rolling Stone and The Atlantic. Some of his stories include looking at conditions in California prisons, training with troops leaving for Iraq and working with first responders in Haiti and Nepal.

In his conversations with students, Beiser offered some words of advice to the aspiring journalists in the room.

If you want to do it,” he said, “just be prepared to hustle a lot, which can be scary but it can be exciting in its own right.”


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