AP wins Pulitzer for stories on enslaved fishermen in Asia
New York — The Associated Press won the Pulitzer Prize for public service Monday for documenting the use of slave labor in Southeast Asia to supply seafood to American tables — an investigation that spurred the release of more than 2,000 captive workers.
The Tampa Bay Times and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune received the investigative reporting prize for a project on mental hospitals, and the Tampa Bay Times also won in local reporting for studying the harmful effects of ending school integration in Pinellas County, Florida.
The Los Angeles Times won the breaking news prize for its coverage of the deadly shooting rampage by husband-and-wife extremists at a government building in San Bernardino, California, and The Washington Post received the national reporting award for an examination of killings by police in the U.S.
The New York Times won the international reporting award for detailing the plight of Afghan women, and the breaking news photography prize for images of refugees.
The Boston Globe was honored in the feature photography category for pictures of a boy who had suffered abuse, and the newspaper’s Farah Stockman took the commentary prize for her work on the legacy of school busing in the city.
ProPublica and The Marshall Project received the award for explanatory reporting for exploring a rape case in which authorities initially didn’t believe the victim, prosecuted her for lying, and years later came to realize she was telling the truth.
The New Yorker was awarded the feature reporting prize for a story on the enormous Cascadia fault line under the Pacific Ocean, while the magazine’s Emily Nussbaum won in the criticism category for her TV reviews.
In editorial writing, John Hackworth of Sun Newspapers of Charlotte Harbor, Florida, was honored for his pieces about a deadly assault on an inmate by guards. Jack Ohman of The Sacramento Bee took the editorial cartooning prize for what judges called work that conveys “wry, rueful perspectives through sophisticated style.”
The awards marked the centennial of the Pulitzers, American journalism’s highest honors.
AP journalists Margie Mason, Robin McDowell, Martha Mendoza and Esther Htusan chronicled how men from Myanmar and other countries were being imprisoned, sometimes in cages, in an island village in Indonesia and forced to work on fishing vessels. Numerous men reported maimings and deaths on their boats.
The 18-month project involved tracking slave-caught seafood to processing plants that supply supermarkets, restaurants and pet stores in the U.S. Subsequent AP reports detailed the use of slave labor in processing shrimp.
“If Americans and Europeans are eating this fish, they should remember us,” Hlaing Min, 30, a runaway slave from the Indonesian island, told The AP. “There must be a mountain of bones under the sea.”
The stories, photos and videos led to freedom for thousands of fishermen and other laborers, numerous arrests, seizures of millions of dollars in goods and crackdowns on Thai shrimp peeling plants.
AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll commended all of AP’s journalists, saying they “stand up for people who don’t have a voice” and “use the tools of our craft to inform the world and, occasionally, right wrongs that need to be righted.”
The Post, meanwhile, explored an issue that has prompted protests and debate around the U.S. in recent years. The newspaper found that in 2015, on-duty police officers shot and killed 990 people nationwide — and that unarmed black men were seven times more likely to die at the hands of police officers than unarmed whites. More than 50 of the officers had killed someone before.
Established by newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, the prizes were first given out in 1917. Public service award winners receive a gold medal; the other awards carry a prize of $10,000 each.
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