Colony High graduate wins Pulitzer prize for international reporting
Colony High School graduate from Palmer recently won a Pulitzer Prize award for her investigative journalism on the drug war in the Philippines.
Clare Baldwin started her journalism journey in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley writing for the Frontiersman newspaper and then headed around the world becoming an award-winning journalist.
KTVA Facetimed with Baldwin while she is working on another piece in Bangladesh and she says this prize is a huge honor to her as a journalist.
“It’s an award that you know about,” said Baldwin. “If you’re a journalist or not a journalist, it’s something you’re familiar with and it’s a huge honor.”
Clare Baldwin is a Special Correspondent for Reuters who has investigated the Philippine drug war since it began in June 2016.
Before that, she wrote about cyber thieves, pro-democracy protests, sanction-busting and government bailouts. Baldwin’s work with her colleagues won an Overseas Press Club award in 2016 and a Society of Publishers in Asia award in 2015.
Baldwin and her coworkers won the award for their relentless reporting that exposed the brutal killing campaign behind Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
While working on this piece, Baldwin says there was a lot of investigative work that went into 'Duterte's War'.
“It was a series of investigations that I did with a group of colleagues and we were trying to understand the killing machine because we knew that there were thousands and thousands of bodies turning up on the streets all across the Philippines,” said Balwin. “We wanted to know how that was happening, who is doing it and why.”
During the investigation, the crew discovered the police were the ones who were doing all of the killings.
“In particular, it was the anti-drug squads at the different police stations,” said Baldwin.
“One of the stories that we did looked at how police were using public hospitals to cover executions. That story was called Dead On Arrival because what we found out is that the police will go into a house and they would shoot someone and then they would rush a dead body to the hospital. So it looked like they were trying to save their lives, but the person is actually already dead. Before the stories, I had not seen many dead bodies. When I was working on the stories there were a lot of dead bodies.”
Dead on Arrival was one of the many stories within their piece. Another one focused on a group of police officers who were hand picked by Duterte to target certain individuals.
Going into the story, Baldwin says she and her team had no idea how big the story would be.
“It started off that there was a lot of energy and attention put on Duterte the candidate and he was making these grand speeches and he seem to be very very popular,” said Baldwin. “That was it, that was how we got into the story. Pretty quickly we realized it was going to be a really big story. That we are going to be on it for a long time. The bodies started turning up, the killings really took off and the president was out saying kill the drug attic’s and throw their bodies in the bay. We’re going to fatten the fishes. When you have that combination of things you know it’s going to turn into a big story.
This piece was worked on for 18 months and Baldwin says there were two reporting methods that go into this story.
“I think what made the story so effective it was a mix between street reporting going into the neighborhood talking to the families talking to the relatives going to the wakes of the victims that’s one part of it," she said. "And the other part of it is the data side. So very early on we got the police records from all the crimes, so that allowed us to match up what we were hearing and finding on the streets with the broader patterns what was happening on the drug war in that combination was incredibly powerful.”
Even though Balwin is done with Duterte’s war, she hopes the attention will still stay on the Philippines.
“I’m really proud of the fact that it’s going to bring some to attention back to the Philippines to the things that are happening there because they haven’t stopped,” said Baldwin. “We’ve written the stories, they are important stories and they’ve gotten some attention, but there’s a lot more work to be done. There are some really wonderful photojournalists still working on the stories and I hope people read them.”
Balwin says her experiences in Alaska helped her get to where she is now. One of those experiences is learning to love the outdoors with her family.
“They were always taking me out into the mountains to go skiing, camping, hiking and that was totally wonderful and it made me very comfortable and challenging circumstances which is something I rely on a lot, because if you can be comfortable in a place that is not very comfortable you can do a good job.
When Baldwin isn't reporting, she is either rowing or coming back to Alaska to visit her home state.
Right now, she is currently working on another reporting project in Bangladesh, telling the stories of thousands of refugees fleeing persecution and reports of government-sanctioned killings.
You can follow her reporting journey on Twitter.
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