Miami Herald Money Laundering Exposé Wins Pulitzer Prize

Source: AIDC.org

 

Staff coverage of the Panama Papers, the international investigation that exposed how crooks and millionaires use the secret world of offshore companies, and the mordant political commentary of editorial cartoonist Jim Morin in a year rife with material won the Miami Herald two Pulitzer Prizes on Monday.

The 2017 prize for explanatory reporting was awarded to the Herald, its parent company McClatchy and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists for their dive into a massive cache of leaked documents that revealed a financial system of tax havens preferred by tax dodgers, corrupt politicians and drug dealers whose money often wound up in Miami real estate.

The 2017 prize for editorial cartooning went to Morin, whose unmistakable quill-pen drawings and piercing captions have anchored the Herald’s editorial pages since 1978. Morin became a two-time Pulitzer winner, having previously earned the coveted prize in 1996.

“In your late career, you don’t expect this kind of thing,” Morin, 64, said before being celebrated at the center of the newsroom with a champagne toast. “I just work hard at what I do, and I’m never satisfied with it. I always want to make it better.”

Monday’s prizes, journalism’s most prestigious, were the 21st and 22nd bestowed to the Herald since 1951, when the newspaper won its first Pulitzer medal for public service. The Herald has more Pulitzers to its name than any other newspaper in the Southeast.

The Herald’s last Pulitzer had come in 2009, when Patrick Farrell won for breaking news photography after calamitous flooding caused by Hurricane Ike in Haiti. The newspaper had been a finalist in various categories several times since. The last time the Herald nabbed two Pulitzers was in 1993, for its staff coverage of Hurricane Andrew and for then-columnist Liz Balmaseda, now at the Palm Beach Post.

On Monday, reporters and editors huddled in the newsroom — cellphones and cameras in hand — around Morin and Panama Papers reporter Nicholas Nehamas. A second Panama Papers reporter, South America correspondent Jim Wyss, was patched in on video via Skype from Bogotá. Everyone broke into cheers after each award announcement, just after 3 p.m. Then came the hugs.

“That’s two, baby!” Metro editor Jay Ducassi could be heard hollering above the din.

The Pulitzer for public service went to the New York Daily News and ProPublica, who together exposed eviction abuse by the New York Police Department. The New York Times won three awards, for breaking news photography, feature writing and international reporting. And The Washington Post took the prize in national reporting for David A. Fahrenthold’s coverage of Donald Trump’s charitable foundation.

The East Bay Times in Oakland was awarded the breaking news prize for its coverage of the Ghost Ship fire, while the Charleston (West Va.) Gazette-Mail won in investigative reporting for digging into the state’s opioid crisis. And The Salt Lake City Tribune took the local reporting prize for revealing the cruel treatment of sexual-abuse victims at Brigham Young University.

Miami poet Campbell McGrath, a Florida International University professor, was a finalist for the Pulitzer in poetry for his collection, titled “XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century.”

The explanatory reporting prize was shared with the ICIJ and McClatchy. McClatchy’s Washington bureau and the Herald were the only U.S. newspapers to take part in the international consortium that, in an unprecedented collaboration of more than 300 news organizations, sifted through the 11.5 million records leaked from the Panama-based global law firm Mossack Fonseca. The only other Miami organization to participate was Fusion.

“I cannot say how proud I am of this newsroom, the work that you guys do day in and day out,” said Aminda Marqués Gonzalez, the Herald’s executive editor and vice president, who also sits on the Pulitzer board. “What we lack in size, we make up in heart.”

The documents detailed hidden financial dealings from around the world, including from current and former heads of state and their associates. The yearlong Panama Papers investigation, whose first installments were published last April and which has already earned many awards, prompted political resignations — including from the prime minister of Iceland — lawsuits, tax investigations and regulatory reform over shadow companies and money laundering.

The reporters on the project, including several others from the Herald, used a search engine built by ICIJ developers and protected by two-factor authentication to peruse the leaked documents — and then shared their findings using a real-time chat system and encrypted email, exchanging tips and helping each other with translations.

“It brought together journalists from so many different countries, speaking so many languages, to tell a story that would’ve been impossible for a single newsroom to tell,” said Nehamas, 28, an investigative reporter.

“In the often cutthroat world of journalism, it was an amazing experience to work with hundreds of reporters from around the world on the Panama Papers,” Wyss agreed. “I’m honored by today’s recognition, but the real merit of this project was to prove the value of teamwork and collaboration.”

Wyss and Nehamas, then the Herald’s real-estate reporter, found that Franklin Durán, a Key Biscayne resident busted in Argentina with a suitcase stuffed with $800,000 in cash and jailed in the U.S. for acting as an undeclared agent for the Venezuelan government, had created a shell company through Mossack Fonseca, which claimed to follow rules requiring it to know the identity of its customers.

Nehamas and Leo Sisti, an Italian investigative reporter and ICIJ member, also uncovered that Italian businessman Giuseppe Donaldo Nicosia, who allegedly masterminded a $48 million tax fraud, laundered his illegal profits using an offshore company set up by two Miami firms.

And McClatchy’s Tim Johnson traced scores of shell corporations to a single “zombie director”: a 55-year-old Filipina named Nesita Manceau who lists her occupation as “housewife” and yet sits on the board — on paper, at least — of companies including one tied to an arms-running scandal involving North Korea and Iran.

The two Herald stories were edited by investigations editor Casey Frank. The Panama Papers was also a Pulitzer finalist in the international reporting category, where it was originally entered into the competition.

“These days, many journalists feel like we’re part of an embattled and shrinking tribe — we’ve endured layoffs, newspapers going under and a president who came into office calling us ‘the enemy of the American people,’ ” said Michael Hudson, the ICIJ’s senior editor. “But we’re not dead yet. The Panama Papers story was an example of journalists overcoming all kinds of challenges to expose serious wrongdoing that affects people all over the world.”

For Morin — “the dean of editorial cartooning,” Marqués Gonzalez said — his second Pulitzer came 21 years after his first, and nearly 40 years into his Herald career. He shared with other editorial board members in a 1983 prize and was a finalist in 1977 and 1990.

“That speaks to the power of the job you do,” Herald Publisher Alexandra Villoch told Morin.

Morin, whose cartoons are syndicated, honed his incisive political instinct growing up in the tumultuous 1960s. He started cartooning for the Daily Orange at Syracuse University, where he graduated with a degree in illustration and a minor in painting. He still paints oils; for several years at the Herald, he did painstaking, frame-by-frame animations of some of his editorial cartoons. Morin has racked up awards and authored six books, including, most recently, “Jim Morin’s World,” a 40-year cartoon retrospective.

Unlike other cartoonists, who have switched to drawing digitally or with felt-tip markers, Morin has remained faithful to his pencil sketches, submitting several cartoons a day touching on different themes. His pen-and-ink final drafts come in two versions: black-and-white to run in print and color to run online.

“Jim’s recognition is well earned, well-deserved and way overdue!” said his editor, Nancy Ancrum, the Herald’s editorial page editor. “So much has changed in the world since he won his first Pulitzer, but, oddly, much of what he deals with in his cartoons hasn’t changed at all. There will always be politicians who behave badly, boneheaded legislative proposals, victories to celebrate, challenges to confront, and tragedy — natural and man-made. He responds to them all with fearlessness when necessary, and compassion when called for.”

The Pulitzer jury considered 20 of Morin’s 2016 cartoons, most of them satirizing the wild presidential election. Among his most memorable, Morin said, was a frame from last April featuring then-candidate Ted Cruz and his chosen running mate, Carly Fiorina, in the style of the iconic Grant Wood painting “American Gothic” — but with the caption “American Toxic.”

In May, Morin produced another one of his favorites: a depiction of Trump as George Washington, chopping down cherry trees.

The caption reads:

“I can tell all the lies I want because enough people don’t care about the truth…”

Source: The Miami Herald

By: Patricia Mazzei

10 April 2017

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