Annual Report Chronicles Foundation’s Growth

The past year has been a time of transition and new beginnings for the Nieman Foundation. Bob Giles, NF ’66, retired as Nieman curator, wrapping up more than a decade at the helm, while Ann Marie Lipinski, NF ’90, came aboard with fresh ideas on ways to expand the scope and reach of Nieman programs and serve the needs of journalists worldwide.

Nieman Reports expanded its online presence with a redesign that spotlights news about journalism and the work of Nieman Fellows and contributors and highlights the latest issue as well as its archive. The Nieman Journalism Lab also redesigned its site and launched Encyclo, an encyclopedia of the future of news, and Fuego, a Twitter bot that tracks the most-discussed topics related to the future of journalism. Nieman Storyboard established Editors’ Roundtable, which comments on craft and the storytelling aspects of current narrative projects, and “Why’s this so good?”, a weekly feature in which a guest writer chooses a classic narrative and explains what makes it extraordinary. Nieman Watchdog increased its social media presence to better share the site’s many thought-provoking articles, and hosted an online petition calling for accurate infographics.

Read the 2011 Annual Report to learn more about the many exciting developments at the Nieman Foundation, including news about Nieman Fellows, conferences and journalism awards.


Robert A. Caro
has been named the 2011 Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters at Bucknell University.

The Weis fellowship is an annual award recognizing “an individual who represents the very highest level of achievement in the craft of writing within the realms of fiction, nonfiction, or biography,” according to the school’s website. Previous winners include John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, and Toni Morrison. Caro will deliver a lecture at Bucknell in February.

“Robert Caro is a standard-setter for other political historians,” Bucknell president John Bravman said. “As the presidential election year begins, we will look forward to hearing from a writer with Mr. Caro’s extraordinary life of insights into the presidency, government and American decision-making.”

Caro is a historian and biographer best known for his works on New York’s master builder Robert Moses and President Lyndon B. Johnson. “The Passage of Power,” the fourth volume in Caro’s series about Johnson, will be published by Knopf in May. Over the past three decades, Caro’s Johnson books have received two National Book Critics Circle awards, a National Book Award, and a Pulitzer Prize.


Jerome Aumente, professor emeritus at Rutgers University, evaluated health journalism and health communication curricula and training needs in Mozambique. The evaluation was done for the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Communication Programs, which has a major grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to combat communicable diseases with a focus on HIV/AIDS. He was part of a team from Empowering Communications, which is assisting with journalism and media initiatives in Mozambique.

He met with administrators, faculty and students at Polytechnic University in the capital city of Maputo, which is the site of a new health journalism and health communication initiative. The university is establishing a new health communication center and radio station and will create curricula at the undergraduate level and in a new master’s degree program that is being designed with support from the USAID grant to Johns Hopkins.

“Mozambique is a vibrant, developing nation emerging from its Portuguese colonial history and facing serious health challenges when one of six of its people have contracted HIV/AIDS and the government has launched a nationwide campaign to fight it,” Aumente said. “A new generation of trained health journalists and health communicators is urgently needed and my recommendations deal with new programs the university can launch and practical continuing education programs for journalists already in the field.”

H. Brandt Ayers received the Carr Van Anda Award from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in late September.

Ayers has served as the editor and publisher of The Anniston Star in his native Alabama since 1969. During that time, the newspaper has become well known for its courageous reporting and editorial independence, and Time magazine twice named it the “best small newspaper in the United States.”

“Brandt Ayers is a bit of a living legend in the American newspaper industry, and is perhaps the best-known publisher/editor of what we often refer to as ‘community newspapers,’ ” said professor Bill Reader, who nominated Ayers. “The Anniston Star has been a paper to watch for me for my entire career, both as a full-time working journalist and later as a journalist-scholar and journalism professor.”

At the awards ceremony, Ayers delivered a speech, entitled “The News Stops Here,” about the value of community newspapers in the modern news environment.

“The Wall Street Journal isn’t going to cover your mayor’s race and The New York Times will not follow the rising football fortunes of two rival high schools,” he said. “Only our printed papers or websites will do that.”

“Regardless of whether the paper is delivered on paper or by pixels, human nature is a constant,” he concluded. “It is a centripetal force, constantly drawing us to a center. Call it the town square or the back porch. Y’all come!”


At a ceremony announcing Tangeni Amupadi, NF ’07, as the new editor of the Namibian, outgoing editor Gwen Lister, NF ’96, handed over a symbolic set of keys. Photo by Henry van Rooi.

Namibian Niemans Forge a New Connection

After spending the past 26 years as editor of The Namibian, Gwen Lister, NF ’96, has stepped down from the newspaper she founded. For a successor, she selected Namibia’s only other Nieman Fellow, Tangeni Amupadhi, NF ’07, who took over on October 1.

“I would be lying if I said that the past 26 years have always been easy, because they haven’t,” Lister said in her farewell speech. “Now is not the time for historical introspection, but the long and short of it is that I have loved every minute of leading this newspaper for nearly three decades.”

Lister founded the paper in 1985 while the country was still under apartheid rule. As editor, she was the sole director of the paper. Though she has stepped down from the editorship, Lister will remain with the company as chairwoman of the new board of trustees and executive director for new business development and media.

Before taking the reins, Amupadhi worked alongside Lister for six months as editor-designate. He had worked for the paper from 1999 until 2004 when he left to found the magazine Insight Namibia. He has also worked for the Namibia Press Agency as well as the Mail & Guardian in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In her farewell, Lister praised the staff for surviving a ban by the government and for managing to find financial stability with a business model that was unprecedented in Namibia. Now the nation’s biggest-selling daily paper, it is owned by Free Press of Namibia Ltd., the sole shareholder of which is the nonprofit Namibia Media Trust. This structure frees the paper from the dictates of government, political parties, or corporate ownership.

Looking forward, Lister warned against “other contenders and pretenders in the newspaper industry” and said that the paper would continue to face challenges to its survival.

“To Tangeni, you are inheriting the best and the worst of worlds,” she said. “This is a huge responsibility not for the fainthearted, and I know [you] are willing, eager and able to shoulder it and take The Namibian to greater heights.”


Read his obituary in the Press-Telegram.
Marvin “Larry” Allison, a reporter and editor who spent more than 50 years at the Press-Telegram of Long Beach, California, died on October 30th of complications from pneumonia. He was 77.

In 1957 Allison joined the Independent Press-Telegram, as the paper was then known, as a reporter. He went on to hold nearly every position at the paper and became editor in 1978 after two years working for Knight Ridder at the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader and the Detroit Free Press. He became editorial page editor in 1990 and held that position until his death.

“He was a consummate newspaperman who loved coming to work every day,” said Rich Archbold, a former editor hired by Allison, in one of the many tributes on the Press-Telegram website. “He had ink in his veins and will leave an unforgettable legacy.”

Many of the tributes spoke to Allison’s interest in new technology and gadgets, his active lifestyle and love of adventure—and how they all came together with cars.

“Larry was all about the future,” wrote columnist Tim Grobarty. “He loved fast cars—he had the fastest car we’ve ever been in, a Mercedes S600, and it was like being shot into space when he took us for a spin in it. And he kept on top of every Apple product. He had all of them.”

Allison also served at one time as president of the Associated Press Managing Editors and was involved with several philanthropic groups, including the United Way and the Museum of Latin-American Art.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia, and their son.


Peter Almond and his springer spaniel Henry completed a five-month, 1,237-mile walk across the length of Great Britain in October. The pair raised more than $15,000 for charity while following the “Land’s End to John O’Groats” route, considered to be the longest distance across the island.

“I could not have done this without being managed from home by my wife, Anna, who was with me and son Nick on our Nieman year, or without Henry being such a gosh-darn loveable pooch,” Almond wrote in an e-mail to Nieman Reports. “He opened doors and wallets from hundreds of well-wishers to donate to our chosen charity—Hounds for Heroes, which trains assistance dogs for injured British service and emergency service personnel.”

Almond chronicled the experience in a blog at

Currently a freelance writer living in the United Kingdom, Almond has worked as a reporter at the Cleveland Press, The Washington Times, and The Daily Telegraph. His book “Aviation: The Early Years” was published in 1997; he is looking for a publisher for two more aviation books and a novel.

Read her obituary in the Chicago Tribune.
Rose Economou, a broadcast journalist turned professor, died on October 2nd at her home in Oak Park, Illinois. She was 65.

A native of Chicago’s South Side, Economou had her first brush with the national spotlight as a 25-year-old “advance man” for presidential candidate Ed Muskie’s primary campaign in 1972. It was such an unusual position for a woman in those days that she and a female colleague were profiled in Time magazine.

After that foray into political campaigns ended unsuccessfully, she moved into broadcasting with jobs at local stations in Richmond, Virginia and Washington, D.C. In 1977 she returned to Chicago with CBS affiliate WBBM as a field and documentary producer and worked on the Emmy Award-winning 1978 report “Agent Orange: The Human Harvest.” Following her Nieman year, she moved to CBS News and became a producer, working with Charles Kuralt on “CBS News Sunday Morning.”

Economou also worked on a number of documentaries for PBS’s “Frontline,” producing an episode called “Not One of the Boys” in 1984 about the growing number of women in politics. She also produced documentaries about gang violence and social welfare, launched a documentary company called With Heart Productions, and had been working on a film about food safety for several years.

“She was a person more passionate about social justice, more passionate about honest journalism, more passionate about the belief that every individual should be totally involved in the world around them than anyone else,” said Hodding Carter III, NF ’66, a longtime friend.

In 1990, she joined Columbia College Chicago as artist in residence and became a journalism faculty member two years later. A well-known and beloved figure for students, she remained with the school until her death.

“We had students sobbing in the hallways,” said Nancy Day, NF ’79, chairwoman of the Columbia Journalism Department. “She had an impact because she really went out of her way to be nice to the students. She would always go the extra mile for them.”

The school has designated a scholarship in her honor to help students pay for international travel programs, something that she had championed during her career.



A Posthumous Tribute to a Journalist’s Career

The family of the late Ameen Akhalwaya, NF ’82, has published “Comrades and Memsahibs,” a collection of his writings.

Before he died of cancer in 1998, Akhalwaya had been working on a memoir. His wife Farida and daughter Zaytoon—along with friends Joseph Thloloe, NF ’89, and Quraysh Patel—have brought his vision into print.

From his earliest writing with the Rand Daily Mail, where he worked in the ’70’s, to his groundbreaking work as the founder of the alternative newspaper The Indicator in 1985, Akhalwaya was a leading voice for press freedom in South Africa. He continued to be a prominent figure in the country after the end of apartheid, joining the South African Broadcasting Corporation as executive editor of current affairs in 1993 and working as media director in 1996 for Cape Town’s 2004 Olympic bid.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Zaytoon Akhalwaya. She is Ameen Akhalwaya’s daughter.
“Ameen’s columns, news reports, and general analysis provide us with a fascinating perspective on our society from the 1970’s to the recent ’90’s,” wrote Thloloe, South Africa’s press ombudsman, in the book’s foreword. “His lens is constantly adjusted from the intensely personal to the wider view of the world. This collection provides us with insights into Ameen’s world and into Ameen.”


Dale Maharidge‘s latest book in his long-running collaboration with photographer Michael S. Williamson is “Someplace Like America: Tales From the New Great Depression,” published by University of California Press in June.

The two met in 1980 when they both worked at The Sacramento Bee—Maharidge as a newly hired cops reporter and Williamson as a staff photographer, recently promoted from copyboy.

Two years later they started on their first book, “Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass,” documenting a declining steel town and hobos traveling the country on freight trains. “It’s not a story we set out to do. It found us,” writes Maharidge, now an associate professor in the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.

They continued chronicling the state of the working class, traveling 500,000 miles and following some families for nearly 30 years, a project that led to “Someplace Like America.”

The book gained a sense of urgency in the economic downturn of 2008 when, even though officials bragged about avoiding another Great Depression, unemployment and foreclosures were on the rise. “My Great Recession is your Great Depression if you lose your job and your home,” Maharidge writes. “The oxymoronic term ‘jobless recovery’ is an insult to those who have been laid off.”

Their work gained attention from Bruce Springsteen, who writes in the book’s foreword that “Journey to Nowhere” inspired part of his album “The Ghost of Tom Joad.”

Maharidge and Williamson have now collaborated on a total of six books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning “And Their Children After Them: The Legacy of ‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men’—James Agee, Walker Evans, and the Rise and Fall of Cotton in the South,” in which they revisited the families profiled in the 1941 classic. Each has also had two books of his own published.

Will Sutton will be teaching at Grambling State University in Louisiana during the spring 2012 semester as one of four inaugural Reynolds Foundation visiting business journalism professors.

Sutton is a former deputy managing editor at The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer and he served as a past president of the National Association of Black Journalists. He previously taught journalism at Hampton University in Virginia.


Melissa Ludtke is now the executive editor of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, after stepping down as editor of Nieman Reports at the end of November.

She had been the magazine’s editor since 1998, and in those 13 years produced 54 issues, expanding its scope and global reach in print, bringing forward-looking topics to its pages in stories told and shown by experienced journalists. She transitioned Nieman Reports to a vibrant digital presence, advanced such initiatives as Professor’s Corner, and worked with her colleagues on social media outreach through Facebook, Twitter and a weekly e-mail newsletter.

Ludtke started in journalism in the 1970’s, after graduating from Wellesley College. She freelanced as a “go-for” at ABC Sports, then was hired as a reporter for Sports Illustrated, where in five years there she worked on the TV/radio, professional basketball and baseball beats. In 1977 she became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against Major League Baseball that gained women the same access that their male colleagues had to interview baseball players in locker rooms. She then worked for CBS News and Time magazine, as a researcher in New York, and as a Time News Service correspondent in Los Angeles and Boston. She covered the Summer Olympic games and presidential campaign in 1984, and then took on the social policy beat with stories revolving around children and family issues.

After her Nieman year, she was a visiting scholar at Radcliffe College and a Prudential Fellow at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. There, she worked on her book, “On Our Own: Unmarried Motherhood in America,” published by Random House in 1997 and University of California Press in 1999. She remains engaged in community RELATED ARTICLE
“Guided By a Simple Vision”
– Melissa Ludtke
service, as a board member for Families With Children From China, New England and as mentor to a Cambridge-based youth group that is part of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots and Shoots program.

In 2010, she received the Yankee Quill Award from the Academy of New England Journalists, recognizing her lifetime contribution to excellence in journalism


Columnist Rami G. Khouri, NF ’02, Tufts University anthropology professor Amahl Bishara, and Egyptian journalist Sabah Hamamou (speaking via Skype) discuss the future of the Arab press. Photo By Jonathan Seitz.

The Arab Press: Exploring Challenges and Possibilities

Egyptian journalist Sabah Hamamou, speaking from Cairo via Skype, brought a sense of immediacy to a panel discussion about the Arab press when she shared news of an initiative to launch an independent TV channel.

A group of activists, journalists and intellectuals plan to raise money for the channel through an initial public offering, Hamamou, deputy business editor at Al-Ahram newspaper in Cairo, told the audience gathered at the Lippmann House in late October.

Hamamou was one of three panelists at a forum, “The Arab Press: Can It Keep Up With Political Transformations?“, moderated by Melissa Ludtke, NF ’92, editor of Nieman Reports. Joining Hamamou were Rami G. Khouri, NF ’02, a veteran observer of the Arab news media who writes an internationally syndicated column, and Amahl Bishara, an anthropology professor at Tufts University who studies news coverage of Palestine.

Hamamou said the fall of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime in February fueled hopes for rapid change. Yet the storming in October of a television station by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to prevent a well-known columnist from appearing on a popular show demonstrated that the country still has a long way to go in moving out from under Mubarak’s shadow.

Hamamou and Khouri agreed that the news media’s lack of credibility in the Arab world presents a major challenge for journalists. Hamamou said the state-run media reported that Tahrir Square was empty at a time that other broadcasters were covering the protests there. Khouri said the media’s “massive loss of credibility” is acute among people under age 29 who make up half of the population in the Arab world.

He singled out Al-Jazeera, based in Doha, Qatar, for the quality and relevance of its reporting and said that it is crucial for journalists be a party to the writing of new constitutions in Arab countries so they can advocate for provisions that stipulate protections for the media.


Lou Ureneck‘s second nonfiction book, “Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine,” was published this fall by Viking. In it, he chronicles the trials and tribulations of building a vacation home in Maine with the help of his brother. Ureneck, who teaches journalism at Boston University, explains, “I was looking for a project that would return me to a better frame of mind following a series of personal setbacks. The work of cabin-building turned out to be the medicine I needed. It was mentally absorbing and at times physically demanding. I liked the feel of a hammer and wood chisel in my hands. The clean fir-scented air was a tonic.”

The memoir tells three stories, Ureneck writes, “the cabin’s construction, the relationship I have with my younger brother Paul, and the important place that nature has played in my life since my childhood. The stories mingle, cross and diverge—the pages are partly memoir and partly a reported essay about carpentry, New England history, and the people of rural Maine.”


Robert Blau has been elected to the Pulitzer Prize Board. Blau has been the managing editor for special projects and investigations at Bloomberg News since 2008 when he left The (Baltimore) Sun where he was managing editor for four years. Before that, he spent nearly 20 years at the Chicago Tribune as a reporter and editor. He led the team that won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for “Gateway to Gridlock,” an investigation into the failings of the airline industry.

He served as a Pulitzer juror in 2010 and 2011, judging the investigative reporting prize and serving as chairman of the public service jury, respectively. Other Nieman Fellows on the board include Eugene Robinson, NF ’88, and co-chairwoman Ann Marie Lipinski, NF ’90, curator of the Nieman Foundation.


Phillip Martin, a senior investigative reporter for a Boston public radio station, has been named the 2011-2012 Margret and Hans Rey/Curious George producer.

Since joining WGBH Radio in 2010, Martin has done several in-depth series on critical issues affecting Greater Boston. Among them is “Sexual and Human Trafficking in the Boston Area,” a four-part series in which Martin reported on the smuggling of people for forced labor or sexual exploitation. It was recognized with an Edward R. Murrow Award in the Audio Investigative Reporting category.

Made possible through a bequest from the late Margret Rey, co-author of the “Curious George” children’s books, the award enables a WGBH producer to work in an area that reflects Rey’s broad interests. Martin wrote that he views the recognition “as an affirmation of the work that the WGBH Radio news team has been doing collectively in reporting on social justice and innovation in New England. We are a small news department that is growing, both in terms of influence and actual size.”

His work incorporates what he learned in Michael Sandel’s courses about justice during his Nieman year.

Examining the Latin American Press

The state of press freedom in Latin America was the subject of a conference at Harvard University on November 18.

Cosponsored by the Nieman Foundation, the Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, the conference brought together leading Latin American journalists and scholars to discuss the challenges of reporting in the region.

Topics ranged from the threats faced by reporters—abduction, intimidation and death chief among them—to pressure from government officials or media moguls, and the absence of legal protection and press freedom laws. There was also discussion of innovative solutions to some of those problems, including how blogs and other online media can make a difference.

Nieman Fellows spoke at the conference, including Mónica Almeida, NF ’09, editor at El Universo in Ecuador; Fernando Berguido, NF ’12, publisher of La Prensa in Panama; Boris Muñoz, NF ’10, Venezuelan journalist and fellow at the Carr Center; Pablo Corral Vega, NF ’11, a constitutional lawyer and photojournalist from Ecuador; Claudia Méndez Arriaza, NF ’12, editor of El Periódico in Guatemala; Carlos Eduardo Huertas, NF ’12, investigations editor at Revista Semana in Colombia; Rosental Alves, NF ’88, director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas; Graciela Mochkofsky, NF ’09, editor of El Puercoespín in Argentina; and Juanita León, NF ’07, editor of La Silla Vacía in Colombia. The event was coordinated by Stefanie Friedhoff, NF ’01, special projects manager at the Nieman Foundation.

The conference was live-streamed on the foundation website. Archived video is available at


Malou Mangahas won two Philippine National Statistics Month Media Awards in October.

She won the Outstanding Award for Print and Broadcast for her work with the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and as the host of GMA TV’s “Investigative Documentaries,” which won in the broadcast TV category.

The award citation highlighted a number of reports Mangahas produced for the PCIJ, where she is executive director. Those included an investigation into President Benigno S. Aquino III’s campaign funds for the 2010 elections and an explainer on how to report cases of tax fraud.

The awards are part of the National Statistics Coordination Board’s effort to promote the value of statistics.


Kirstin Downey is the new editor of FTC:Watch, a bimonthly publication that tracks the Federal Trade Commission and other government regulatory agencies.

In a message about the new position, Downey wrote that it offered “topics I find fascinating, a paid subscription base that is not dependent on advertising, [and it] comes out twice a month so that I have time to reflect, and not just react. It’s got a small staff but we’re growing.”

Downey was a business reporter at The Washington Post from 1988 to 2008. During her final three years there, she wrote extensively about the growth of risky new kinds of mortgages that threatened homeowners and the nation’s economic system. In 2008, she shared in the Pulitzer Prize awarded to the Post’s staff for its coverage of the shootings at Virginia Tech.

She left the Post to finish “The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience,” which was inspired by work she did during her Nieman year and published in 2009 by Doubleday. It was named one of the best nonfiction books of 2009 by the Library of Congress, the American Library Association, the Los Angeles Times, and NPR.

In 2010, Downey was a writer and interviewer for the bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which investigated the causes and repercussions of the mortgage meltdown.

In addition to her work at FTC:Watch, Downey is writing a biography of Queen Isabella of Castile, a controversial ruler who transformed Spain from a poor and fractured nation into a global powerhouse and who, as Christopher Columbus’s sponsor, forged the first links between Europe and the Americas. The book is to be published by Doubleday.


Iason Athanasiadis was one of six journalists honored at the 2011 Anna Lindh Mediterranean Journalist Awards in Monaco this October.

He received one of two Special Awards on Documentary and Social Change for an article called “Revolution Game Over?” published by The Majalla in February. In the piece, he compared the revolution in Egypt to earlier revolutions in Greece, Spain and Portugal and cast suspicions on the Army’s role in the protests that eventually forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign.

“Did it [the Army] carry out a coup d’etat? Hijack a legitimate revolution?” writes Athanasiadis, a freelance journalist and photographer. “Or did we witness a psychological operation whereby what appeared to be a pro-democracy movement was used as a Trojan Horse by a military anxious to safeguard its business interests?”

The awards, given by the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue Between Cultures, honor reporting that crosses cultural lines.


Alejandra Matus is back in Chile after completing a master’s in public administration at the Harvard Kennedy School. In her first job since returning to her native country, Matus worked with researchers at University Diego Portales School of Journalism and the investigative journalism project CiperChile to produce a website that tells the real-life stories that inspired a TV miniseries. After each episode of TVN’s “Los Archivos del Cardenal” (“The Archives of the Cardinal”), a fictionalized account of the Catholic Church’s efforts to protect the rights of victims of human rights abuses during the Pinochet regime, the website posted documents and press coverage from the era to educate people about the real crimes.

Matus has covered human rights abuses in Chile for most of her career. She had to leave the country from 1999 to 2001 after the government issued an order for her arrest and banned “The Black Book of Chilean Justice,” her book about corruption in the courts.

“It has been exciting as well as horrifying,” Matus wrote in an e-mail to Nieman Reports about the job. “I know the subject of human rights violations quite well, because I worked many years reporting on that, but going back to the archives and interviewing people still in deep pain has impacted me as if it was the first time I heard these stories.”


Waheed Abdul Wafa became executive director of the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University in October after working for The New York Times in its Afghanistan bureau for 10 years.

The mission of the center is “to enhance nation building by providing reliable information to policy planners, strategy makers, program implementers and future leaders of Afghanistan,” according to its website. The center was established in Peshawar, Pakistan in 1989 and moved to Kabul in 2006. It also maintains a mobile lending library that brings books to 32 of the country’s 34 provinces.

An essay about Wafa’s work was posted on the Times’s “At War” blog. In it, reporter Adam B. Ellick recounts Wafa’s path to journalism after his old job—removing landmines—ended abruptly with the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

That October he traveled across the frontlines and met several journalists, eventually being hired by The New York Times as an interpreter. During his tenure at the Times, he served the paper in many roles, including translator, fixer, security consultant, cultural interpreter, and bookkeeper, as well as reporter on more than 300 stories.

Ellick also writes about a particularly memorable encounter from Wafa’s Nieman year when he met a CIA agent who told him, “We can’t do anything more in your country.”

“That was my biggest lesson in 10 years,” Wafa said. “No one else can give us peace. Afghans should do something.”

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