Posted in Behind the News

A Pulitzer for the entire AP that ‘took real physical courage’

, by Paul Colford

As noted by the judges, the Pulitzer Prize won today by AP was: “For an investigation of severe labor abuses tied to the supply of seafood to American supermarkets and restaurants, reporting that freed 2,000 slaves, brought perpetrators to justice and inspired reforms.”

Addressing staffers at a celebration at AP’s New York headquarters, Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said: “This is AP’s 52nd Pulitzer but our very first for Public Service. Unique among the Pulitzers, the Public Service Gold Medal is awarded not to individuals, but to a news organization, recognizing that it takes a sustained commitment across that organization to support and deliver work like the fish slaves project.

“That kind of commitment is the embodiment of the AP mission, which is shared by each and every one of the people who work here.”

AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt, back to camera, embraces reporter Martha Mendoza as the AP wins the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, Monday, April 18, 2016, in New York. From left, reporter Esther Htusan, international enterprise editor Mary Rajkumar, who worked with the reporters for the duration, and reporter Robin McDowell. The fourth reporter who worked on the series, Margie Mason, was on assignment in Indonesia. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Before the celebration got underway, Carroll also noted that the reporting “took real physical courage.”

“Robin McDowell and Esther Htusan were alone on an island in the most remote seas of Indonesia finding caged and beaten slaves,” Carroll said.

“After their work was discovered, they were chased by angry thugs in a speedboat. Undeterred, Robin and Margie scrunched in the back of a small pickup truck for days following the slave-caught seafood as it was loaded onto ships that Martha Mendoza then tracked as they sailed toward the United States.

“The remarkable work of these four tenacious women is what brought this foul practice to light, led to real reform and freedom for more than 2,000 slaves.

“Every single person in the AP has contributed in some way to supporting this work and that is why we are so very proud today.”

The Pulitzer Prize for Public Service caps a long, gratifying list of awards lauding the work of the four reporters, including:

You will find the investigation in its entirety here.

Here is a complete list of Pulitzer winners.