The Associated Press won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service on Monday for its investigative work in the fishing industry of the South East Asia. The investigations led to the release of more than 2,000 slaves employed to supply seafood throughout America.
The reports by Esther Htusan, Margie Mason, Robin McDowell, and Martha Mendoza made way for the US legislation to create greater transparency on the part of the food suppliers. It also led to a dozen arrests and confiscation of ships worth millions of dollars.
“The AP journalists accomplished two goals that had eluded others,” wrote AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll in her nomination letter to the Pulitzer judges. “They found captive slaves, countering industry claims that the problems had been solved. And they followed specific loads of slave-caught seafood to supply chains of particular brands and stores, so companies no longer could deny culpability.”
It is 52nd Pulitzer Prize won by the Associated Press.
The Tampa Bay Times and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune won the prize for investigative reporting on mental hospitals. The Tampa Bay Times also won in the local reporting segment for research into the harmful effects of the ending of school integration in the Pinellas County.
The Los Angeles Times bagged the prize for breaking news while the international reporting award went to the New York Times. The Washington Post received the national reporting award for a report on killings by the police in the US, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Associated Press said in a statement that its reporters carried on the investigations even at the personal risks. “With courage, integrity and tenacity, this team of journalists has shaken up the $7 billion-a-year Thai seafood export industry, engaged governments, corporations and consumers,” Carroll wrote.
Before the story was published in March 2015, the reporters sought help from the International Organization for Migration to rescue the men on the island of Benjina in Indonesia. These men were later quoted in the story.