The Chicago Tribune’s Paul Salopek is the winner of the 2008 George Polk Award for International Reporting for a series of reports revealing the largely unknown and controversial efforts by the U.S. to bring the war on terror to the Horn of Africa.
Salopek, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, was among 14 journalists honored Tuesday by Long Island University, which bestows the Polk Awards each year. Also honored was the Los Angeles Times’ Paul Pringle for his reporting about alleged improprieties in the diversion of labor union funds to firms run by family members of the union local’s president.
“Paul Salopek is a journalist of extraordinary intelligence, courage and passion, and he has focused his talents on reporting about defining events occurring now in Africa,” said Gerould Kern, editor of the Chicago Tribune. “The upheavals on that continent reach across the globe. Paul is a pioneer in revealing these stories to the world.”
In three reports, Salopek detailed how the U.S. military is attempting to thwart anticipated growth in activity by radical Islamic forces in the Horn, which includes Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea. His stories uncovered growing anti-American sentiment, including allegations that the military was promoting secret prison programs in the region.
Salopek himself was imprisoned and beaten while covering the conflict in Sudan in 2006. He protested his imprisonment during a nine-day hunger strike. Eventually, he and two colleagues were freed after U.S. government officials, including then Senator Barack Obama, pushed for his release.
Go to chicagotribune.com/shadowwar to read the series, or chicagotribune.com/salopek for more of Salopek’s work.