I was freelancing in Latin America 20 years ago when I got a tip about the massacre of 25 women and children in the Amazon rainforest. The government and local media blamed the killings on historical tribal conflicts, but my sources suggested that the logging industry might have played a role.
I knew it could be a big story, but I couldn’t afford to do the reporting. Thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, I was able to travel to the region and spend several months researching the issue. The article and accompanying photos that ran in the Miami Herald and San Francisco Chronicle explored how a toxic mix of government neglect, corporate greed and international criminal groups were fueling violence deep in the jungle to feed the global demand for cedar and mahogany.
The grant not only helped me tell an important story – it was a game-changer for my career.
Within a year, I was working full-time at the Miami Herald. A decade later, I shared a Pulitzer Prize for the Herald’s coverage of the Panama Papers, and last year I was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for our series exploring illegal gold mining in South America.
This week, I made a donation to the Fund for Investigative Journalism so that more early-career freelancers can have the same incredible opportunity I had to do great reporting and build a strong career.
I’m writing to ask you to do the same. Please click here and donate today.
None of us are rich, and all of us have a lot of competing priorities right now. Whether you can give $50 or $500, this is a time to “pay it forward” and support up-and-coming journalists. I know first-hand how much it will mean to them.