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Pulitzer Center Update March 15, 2022

Investigating the Endless, Systematic Destruction of Rainforests

A truck loaded with wood in North Kalimantan, Indonesia. Image by NBC News.

Meet the 2022 Rainforest Investigations Fellows

It hasn’t been good news for rainforests in a world shaken by escalating military conflicts and extreme weather events. Whether in the Amazon, the Congo Basin, or in Southeast Asia—the planet's most biodiverse ecosystems—deforestation rates continue to rise.

Faced with such a challenge, investigative journalists are key players in the mission of revealing the causes behind the symptoms: What are the political and economic powers that continue to drive the endless, systematic destruction of our planet?

This is one of the main questions guiding the work of the Rainforest Investigations Network (RIN), an initiative created in 2021 by the Pulitzer Center. As the Rainforest Investigations Editor, I have the privilege of leading a team of journalists from around the world working to expose the interconnected systems and actors that contribute to rainforest destruction.

For a second year, we are awarding full-year investigative Fellowships to experienced reporters in tropical regions around the world and are inviting them to collaborate with colleagues based in large newsrooms in the U.S. and Europe in an effort to expand the reach and scope of investigations on underreported rainforest issues.

The first year of the initiative supported 13 Fellows from 10 countries, covering topics ranging from how the beef industry is fueling Amazon deforestation, to the nickel mining behind electric car batteries destroying forests in the Philippines.

This year’s cohort is even larger, expanding to 19 Fellows from 12 countries. Their investigative projects range from illegal activities by armed groups in the Amazon to major supply chains that connect deforestation to global markets. Click here to meet the 2022 RIN Fellows and learn more about their profiles and projects.

In its first year of activities, the RIN published 76 original stories in multiple languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, bahasa Indonesia, English, and more, reaching millions of people in multiple formats.

We look forward to supporting even more investigative projects and cross-border newsroom collaborations on crucial issues impacting the world’s rainforests.

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After grantee Samantha Hogan’s reporting on wiretapping in Maine jails, Governor Janet Mills requested that the state’s Department of Corrections work with legislators to end the practice. In a statement to The Maine Monitor, Mills’ office wrote that the governor “believes that Maine state prisons and county jails must protect the confidentiality of privileged communications between an inmate and their legal counsel, a right afforded to them under the Constitution.” Potential legislation surrounding the wiretapping issue would require jails to look back on years of records to determine whether or not they had recorded attorney calls.

Other notable Pulitzer Center-supported projects in Maine that sparked local legislation include Lawmen Off Limits, which led to increased oversight of public sheriffs who were under investigation. Misconduct Concealed also exposed how the police officers in Maine obscured discipline records from public view.

This message first appeared in the March 11, 2022, edition of the Pulitzer Center's weekly newsletter. Subscribe today.

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