By Alex Distefano
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Village Voicestaff writer Mark Schoofs has won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in international reporting for his eight-part series, "AIDS: The Agony of Africa." Schoofs, 37, spent more than six months last year reporting in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, Cameroon, Gabon, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Voicepublished the series, edited by executive editor Richard Goldstein, last November and December.
Schoofs has been covering science and medicine for the Voicesince 1995. Previously, he was the editor in chief of Windy City Times, a gay and lesbian publication in Chicago. He has been writing about AIDS for 13 years. To report his series, Schoofs interviewed doctors, undertakers, government officials, prostitutes, policy experts, and activists. He shot all but one of the photos, spent a week in a $5-a-night monastery, and battled drug-resistant malaria.
His articles illuminated how the epidemic is devastating an entire continent. So far, AIDS has killed nearly 14 million Africans and infected more than 23 million others. Schoofs's series is part of a long tradition of AIDS reporting at the Voice, which was among the first news organizations to assign an AIDS beat in the 1980s.
In its 45-year history, The Village Voicehas won two other Pulitzers. Jules Feiffer won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. And in 1981, Voicereporter Teresa Carpenter won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.
As he accepted congratulations from colleagues on April 10, Schoofs hoped the Pulitzer would have an impact. "Last week I received a letter from a village headman in Zimbabwe, telling me that one of the people I interviewed from the story had died, leaving behind four orphans," Schoofs said. "I hope the Pulitzer puts more pressure on America to do its part to combat AIDS in Africa. If we can give billions to fight a war in Kosovo, we should be able to do at least that to fight something that will cost millions more lives and create millions more orphans."
AIDS: The Agony of Africa by Mark Schoofs.