Globe wins SABEW awards for fish-mislabeling series

The Boston Globe won four awards in the Society of American Business Editors and Writers’ annual Best in Business contest, including three honors for the paper’s series on the mislabeling of fish at area restaurants and supermarkets.

Reporters Jenn Abelson and Beth Daley won in the feature and explanatory categories for their “Fishy Business’’ series, the result of a five-month investigation that found Massachusetts consumers routinely and unknowingly overpay for less desirable fish, some of which can cause illness. The series involved DNA testing of samples collected from 134 restaurants, grocery stores, and seafood markets. Forty-eight percent of 183 samples turned out to be a different species than what was advertised.

As a result of the series, more than a dozen supermarkets and restaurants stopped selling the substituted items or revised their menus to make them accurate. US officials launched investigations with the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and other federal agencies. In Massachusetts, state officials are weighing doing their own DNA testing of seafood and looking to increase scrutiny of fish sales to combat seafood substitution.


“Fishy Business’’ also won in the category “creative use across multiple platforms,’’ for its interactive database of the fish samples tested, other graphics, and several videos.

The Business section staff was honored in the breaking news category for the newspaper’s coverage of the 634-point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average on Aug. 8, a plunge precipitated by worries over the debt ceiling crisis. The day’s reporting involved most of the section’s reporters and editors, along with the work of newspaper designers.