Rappler awards

Rappler report on fishing industry named finalist in ILO Global Media Competition

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Rappler report on fishing industry named finalist in ILO Global Media Competition

Jesus Gaboni (leftmost), with other Filipino crew aboard their fishing vessel. The man on the rightmost, Raul Calopez, got sick onboard and eventually died. Gaboni helped store Calopez's body in the ship's freezer.

Martin San Diego

'Ocean Lockdown,' written by Ana P. Santos, exposed the slave-like working conditions endured by migrant fishermen on board the Fu Yuan Yu 7874, made worse when pandemic lockdown measures kept seafarers marooned on their boats

Rappler’s two-part investigative report “Ocean Lockdown” was named as among the finalists in the 2021 International Labour Organization (ILO) Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

The ILO media competition aims to promote balanced and ethical reporting on labor migration, in recognition of the role of stories in addressing stereotypes and misconceptions, and to highlight the positive contribution of migrant workers in their countries of origin and destination. This year’s competition focused on specific coverage of issues related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The investigative report series, written by Ana P. Santos, exposed the slave-like working conditions endured by migrant fishermen on board the Fu Yuan Yu 7874, made worse when pandemic lockdown measures kept seafarers marooned on their boats. Fishing in the middle of the ocean, the fishermen did not even know that a global pandemic had brought the world to a standstill.

The long-haul fishing industry is notorious for its exploitative working conditions and low wages. Migrant fishermen spend long months at sea, facing loneliness, sickness and as the report showed–even death. 

Reporting on the exploitation of the long-haul fishing industry is difficult because accessing fishing vessels is extremely limited. For Ocean Lockdown, the migrant seafarers contributed to the story by providing images and videos they took to document their everyday life at sea, providing a rare glimpse of life in the middle of ocean.

Santos and the Rappler Team put together an animated video using images and photos provided by the fishermen while recorded audio interviews were used as the narrative voice to thread the story together. The result was a video report that offered a rare glimpse at life in the high seas. David Castuciano did the animation, Alyssa Arizabal illustrated the graphics, Jaira Roxas was the producer, while Beth Frondroso acted as supervising producer. Photojournalist Martin San Diego provided additional photos. 

The other winners of the 2021 ILO Global Media Competition on Labour Migration included:

Professional category:

Student category:

“Ocean Lockdown” also bagged two honorable mentions in the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) Awards last June for best video reporting and best explanatory reporting.

“Ocean Lockdown” and the related story, “After Freedom, Filipino Seafarers Captured by Pirates Battle Trauma” was produced with the support of the Pulitzer Center, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness of underreported global issues by directly supporting the work of journalists through reporting grants. Founded in 2006, the Pulitzer Center is now the largest single source of funding for global enterprise reporting. Rappler.com 

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