The Marshfield Mariner won two awards in the 2018 New England Newspaper of the Year competition, sponsored by the New England Newspaper & Press Association.
The Marshfield Mariner was named Distinguished Newspaper of the Year in its weekly circulation category and won a Publick Occurrences Award for its month-long series in August 2017, “Inhuman Trade: A Look at Human Trafficking,” won a Publick Occurrence Award.
As for the Newspaper of the Year contest, the mandatory month to submit an issue was March 2018, which happened to be the month Marshfield, and the South Shore, got pummeled with three major nor’easters. The issue that was entered featured storm coverage from the first major storm at the beginning of March.
The second issue submitted was from August 2017 highlighting the 150th anniversary of the Marshfield Fair.
“The issue had it all… good stories, terrific photos, a good sports section and Opinion pages, and tons of submitted content,” said Gregory Mathis, editor-in-chief. “It was a true representation of the community content we generate and receive on a regular basis.”
The Publick Occurrences Awards recognize the very best work that New England newspapers produce each year— whether it’s individual or team stories, series, spot news coverage, columns or photojournalism that ran in print and/or online. NENPA presents up to 16 Publick Occurrences awards to member newspapers annually.
The award was established in 1990 to recognize individual and team merit at New England newspapers to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of Publick Occurrences, the first newspaper published in America. Four days after it appeared in Boston in 1690, Publick Occurrences was suppressed by the royal governor.
“Kudos to this small community paper for successfully taking on such a big story,” the judges wrote of the entry. “Good us of ‘By the numbers’ and ‘How to get help’ boxes. The diverse profiles of victims – cleaners, sex trade, house maids – were a terrific component. Very well done.”
During August 2017, the Mariner ran a four-week series exploring human trafficking in Massachusetts and the efforts of South Shore residents to raise awareness. The series delved into the widespread commercial sex trade in our cities and suburbs, the online marketplaces where pimps and johns buy and sell sex, cases of modern-day slavery and victims’ tales of survival.
A local Marshfield couple, Frank and Marilee Cantelmo, were on a bike trip to Maine with some friends a few years ago when they heard from an acquaintance about her experience helping victims of human trafficking in Kuwait.
The Cantelmos were shocked by what they learned about human trafficking, not just in distant countries, but in their own backyard here on the South Shore.
After setting up informational panels with their church, the United Church of Christ in Norwell, and other local organizations, they began lobbying for legislation reform, writing grant applications and setting up a network of local volunteers.
The couple took their advocacy one step further, partnering with Amirah Boston, an organization that opens shelters for women who were victims of human trafficking, and are looking to open a shelter on the South Shore.
Even though human trafficking is one of the top crimes in the country, there are less than 20 beds available in shelters for victims of human trafficking in the state, eight of which are provided through an Amirah shelter.
The Marshfield couple’s efforts to raise awareness led to our interest in the issue, and thus a truly committed effort by the staff to explore the many facets of human trafficking, including its local impact.
One month after our series ran, 10 people were indicted on human sex trafficking and other charges stemming from an investigation into an online escort service that allegedly sold women for sex.
And two months after the series ran, the Mariner followed up with coverage of a forum hosted by the South Shore Interfaith Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
“We have tried to keep the issue in the public eye as more people become aware that this isn’t just a big city problem, it’s a human problem that needs everyone’s attention,” said Gregory Mathis, editor-in-chief.
This is the second time in the last four years the Mariner group has won a Publick Occurrences Award, which traditionally goes to daily newspapers.
The Mariner team won a Publick Occurrences Award in 2015 for its series Dealing with Drugs, focusing on the opioid epidemic.