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The Public Press’ latest cover story, on California’s uncoordinated attack on the problem of human trafficking, has been picked up in a variety of media since the publication of the special team reporting project in the Spring 2012 edition: “Force, Fraud Coercion: Human Trafficking in the Bay Area.” The project was produced in collaboration with New America Media and El Tecolote, San Francisco’s bilingual newspaper.
Last week Public Press reporter Jason Winshell was interviewed on KPFA Radio by producer Anthony Fest. Winshell’s lead story showed that four years after a high-profile state task force issued a study, many of its recommendations for better laws, funding and coordination among agencies have yet to materialize.
In the KPFA interview, Winshell dispelled the widely held public perception that human trafficking is synonymous with international sex trafficking — crimes in which primarily women are promised jobs in the U.S. by shady human smugglers, only to find themselves forced to work as prostitutes in hidden brothels. Human trafficking is broader than that — the extraction of any kind of labor by force, fraud or coercion. Although immigrants are common targets of traffickers, U.S. citizens are trafficked as well, and trafficking need not involve crossing international borders.
Fest asked Winshell about a theme running through the Public Press stories: the lack of follow-up on calls for better coordination to address human trafficking by state officials. After the state task force published its 2007 detailed recipe for combating human trafficking, it disbanded without providing any blueprint for implementing the recommendations.
Michael Stoll is executive director and editor of the San Francisco Public Press (www.sfpublicpress.org), a nonprofit, noncommercial news organization that produces in-depth reporting projects on public policy and spotlights important local stories in other public media. He has been a reporter at the Hartford Courant, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Francisco Examiner, and has written freelance for Columbia Journalism Review, Earth Island Journal, SF Weekly, San Francisco Magazine, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Quill, the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times. He has taught journalism at two local universities, and from 2003 to 2006 researched media ethics at gradethenews.org.
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