Sometimes you wake up and you wonder why you’re doing it, right? Journalism has always been a more or less thankless task. It’s not particularly lucrative. There are few jobs that are guaranteed to bring you more grief.
But there are bright moments, too. One such moment is the day the Pulitzer Prizes are announced. I’ve certainly never won one. Not even close. Hell, I’ve never even seen one up close. But I celebrate these singular achievements for what they are – awe-inspiring glimpses into the kind of hard work that changes minds and leads to a better world. There is no business like the this one. And it’s a privilege to be part of it.
Take the Associated Press report into the shocking underbelly of the commercial seafood industry. Some of our fishing is done by slaves. Yes, you read that right. From the winning entry:
Every year, thousands of migrant workers like Myint are tricked or sold into the seafood industry’s gritty underworld. It’s a brutal trade that has operated for decades as an open secret in Southeast Asia’s waters, where unscrupulous companies rely on slaves to supply fish to major supermarkets and stores worldwide.
As part of a year-long investigation into the multibillion-dollar business, The Associated Press interviewed more than 340 current and former slaves, in person or in writing. The stories told by one after another are strikingly similar.
You read that right, too. AP reporters interviewed 340 slaves. Oh my god. …
And it’s not just that AP report. You can find inspiration in the L.A. Times coverage of the San Bernadino shootings. Or read a collaborative report from two medium-sized dailies that punched above their weight to report on violence at mental hospitals. This story stayed with me for many days. The level of reporting is as good as anything I can remember and the storytelling is beyond words.
These prizes remain testament to a business that, at its best, is unlike any other. It is evidence that we are a part of a special tribe of thinking and feeling human beings of extreme talent and perseverance.