West Virginia University presents Margie Mason with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters for her achievement of international preeminence in her field and distinguished contributions to societ
Mason’s investigative journalism has long focused on women, children, poverty and human rights abuses. In 2016, she was part of a four-member team of female reporters who won more than 30 journalism awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, for groundbreaking work that exposed a slave island in a remote part of Indonesia where fishermen were held in cages and forced to work for years.
The series of stories traced the supply chains for some of America’s largest grocery stores and pet food brands—including Wal-Mart, Kroger, Fancy Feast and Iams—and demonstrated the ways these companies were tainted by slave-caught fish. The impact of publication was powerful: Laws were passed, companies were shut down, perpetrators were jailed and more than 2,000 slaves were freed and sent home.
Mason has covered many major international stories over the years, including SARS, bird flu, the 2004 Asian tsunami and the hunt for the Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared in 2014. In 2009, she co-wrote an award-winning project about the rise of global drug resistance. She is among a small number of foreign journalists to ever report from inside North Korea.
A native of Daybrook, West Virginia, Mason graduated from WVU’s Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism (now the Reed College of Media) in 1997. She started her reporting career at age 19 as an intern at The Dominion Post in Morgantown and later worked for the AP in Charleston. In 2000, she reported overseas for the first time, covering the 25th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon in Vietnam with her mentor, the late legendary AP reporter George Esper, who went on to teach journalism at WVU.
Mason was awarded a journalism fellowship for Asian studies in 1999 from the University of Hawai’i. She was also a 2009 Nieman fellow at Harvard University, where she studied in the School of Public Health.