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Pulitzer Center Update March 23, 2012

This Week in Review: Breaking Taboo

Media file: mae-alt.jpg
Image by Jake Naughton. Liberia, 2012.

Pulitzer Center grantee Mae Azango, a Liberian journalist for <em>FrontPage Africa</em> and New Narratives, was forced to go into hiding after she published a story on International Women's Day about female genital mutilation. This practice is theoretically illegal in Liberia, but widespread and widely tolerated. Mae broke a taboo by exposing this truth, and the menacing reaction to her story was not entirely unexpected. <br>
Mae is not the kind of journalist who backs away from difficult stories, which is why we selected her to work on collaborative project in which two US journalists have teamed with four African journalists to report on <a href="/projects/africa-reproductive-health-family-planning-reporting-initiative">reproductive health in Africa.</a> In a <a href="/reporting/liberia-reporter-threatened-female-circumcision-reproductive-health-press-freedom-mae-azango">report</a> that aired on PRI's The World, Mae tells Jina Moore, one of her American collaborators, that she expects things will eventually calm down, and that when the time is right, she will do a follow-up story. We admire Mae's courage, and also that of her publisher at <em>FrontPage Africa</em>, Rodney Sieh.<br>
To slow the relentless advance of the Sahara, 11 African nations are attempting to plant a wall of trees stretching 5,000-miles from Senegal to Djbouti. Pulitzer Center grantee Bobby Bascomb, an environmental journalist on the public radio program <em>Living On Earth</em>, recently visited Senegal. She reports that the government was able to <a href="/reporting/senegal-great-green-wall-desert-forest-sahel-peuhl">convince skeptical nomadic tribes</a> of the value of the trees by first showing them how to plant carrots. <br>
Until next week,<br>
Tom Hundley
Senior Editor