Philip Jacobson


Philip Jacobson is a senior editor and investigative reporter on Mongabay's Southeast Asia desk, based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he is accredited to work as a journalist. Since joining the environmental news site in 2015, he has covered a variety of issues pertaining to forests, oceans, mining, plantations, and wildlife, especially in Indonesia.

His latest investigation uncovered a massive illegal shark finning operation across the fleet of a major Chinese tuna fishing company; the story prompted the U.S. Treasury Department to issue sanctions against the firm, its owner, and all of its vessels. The article also preceded a ban on the use of certain types of shark fishing gear in the western and central Pacific Ocean. From 2017 to 2018, he co-authored the "Indonesia for Sale" series, about how several Indonesian politicians used shell companies as vehicles for selling palm oil plantation permits to major corporations, with colleagues from The Gecko Project; while at Mongabay, he has also collaborated on multi-month investigations with BBC News, Al Jazeera's 101 East program, Indonesia's Tempo magazine, Malaysiakini, the Korean Center for Investigative Journalism, the Environmental Reporting Collective, and more.

Other stories he has written have revealed how the Asia Pulp & Paper conglomerate disguised its ownership of a timber plantation in Borneo that cleared carbon-rich peat forest in violation of APP's zero-deforestation commitment and how a politician in Borneo gerrymandered his district in order to facilitate land grabbing for palm oil.

His work has been recognized by the SOPA Awards, SEJ Awards, Fetisov Journalism Awards, Online Journalism Awards, and, among others. After being imprisoned in the Indonesian city of Palangkaraya in 2020, he received the Pantau Foundation's Oktovianus Pogau Award for Courage in Journalism.

Philip Jacobson headshot