May 21, 2022

Event Coverage Highlight

Morton Frank Award Winners Explain How They Exposed Abuses in the Sugar Industry

Clockwise from upper left: Sandy Tolan, Euclides Cordero Nuel and Michael Montgomery

The Bitter Work Behind Sugar,” a radio story and podcast by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, won this year’s Morton Frank Award for best international business news reporting in TV, video, radio, audio or podcast. It was distributed by PRX and a text version was published in Mother Jones.

Reporters Sandy Tolan and Euclides Cordero Nuel, who worked closely with Reveal editor and producer Michael Montgomery, will discuss their project as part of the OPC’s “How I Did It” series, which offers our many freelance members the opportunity to interact with highly successful journalists and OPC Award winners.

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Registrants will receive a link to join the Zoom webinar about an hour before the program.

This comprehensive investigation took listeners deep into the sugar cane harvesting camps manned by Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic. Piecing together information from visits to 10 work camps (batayes), more than 100 interviews and numerous documents from government agencies and lawsuits, this team traced sugar from the Dominican fields to American ports, and the supply chains of major brands such as Domino and Hershey.

Their narrative was a strong, engaging probe into Central Romana Corporation, an immense privately held sugar-producing company which is partially owned by a prominent Cuban-American family, the Fanjuls. The story helps illustrate how the Fanjuls built a global sugar empire through a secretive web of holding companies, partnerships and affiliates including the Dominican Republic’s largest employer and a top importer of sugar to the United States. The reporting, which has prompted scrutiny from Congress and the Department of Labor, documented workers enduring $4 a day wages, staggering debt, substandard housing and woeful medical care while enhancing the company’s profitability.

The moderator is Marina Walker Guevara, executive editor of The Pulitzer Center, which helped fund the project.