"Sweatshop" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner



Merle Linda Wolin, then the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner's first and only reporter covering Los Angeles's Hispanic community, went undercover as an undocumented sweatshop worker from Portuguese-speaking Brazil, under the name Merlina de Novais.  Over five weeks, she worked three different jobs, even though she had minimal sewing skills.  She spent the better part of a year reporting the story, including the court proceedings over a suit she brought against one of the employers who refused to pay her. 

Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Newspaper, Radio, Television

Effects and Outcomes

Wolin was asked to appear before a Congressional subcommittee investgating home labor as a result of this reporting. She was also a finalist in the Public Service category for the Pulitzer Prize in 1982.  Her series was reportedly the unanimous choice for the prize, a decision overturned by the Pulitzer Board, possibly because of the nature of the undercover reporting that the story depends upon.  The series was published simultaneously in the city's Spanish language newspaper, La Opinion, and was read each day over a local Spanish language radio station, and summarized each night on local Spanish language TV. 

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