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Best in Business 2011 contest-judges’ comments

JUDGES’ COMMENTS

about the winners of SABEW’s 17th annual Best in Business Awards*

*For winners without judges’ comments, judges did not provide them.

= = =

 

DIVISION: DIGITAL

BLOG

Digital: More than 2.5 million unique monthly visits

Repowatch.com

Mary Fricker

Financial Crisis

With passion for her subject and attention to detail, Mary Fricker has created an impressive and important blog devoted to an esoteric and overlooked risk factor in the modern economy: the institutional repo loan market. RepoWatch is hardly light reading, but it is invigorated by Fricker’s shout-from-the-rooftops fervor that the public, and journalists, need to understand how the post-crisis financial landscape remains fraught with perils. Among them: the little understood market in which large financial institutions borrow trillions of dollars from each other and from central banks every day, using securities as collateral. Things went bad in 2008 in this market, and Fricker points out another disaster, last year’s collapse of MF Global, was also hastened by repo loans. Fricker’s blog deserves plaudits for committed reporting and analysis of a crucial component of the financial system.

 

 

 

BREAKING NEWS

Digital all sizes

 

FINS.com

Julie Steinberg, Aaron Lucchetti

MF Global

FINS.com used its small staff to great effect in the coverage of MF Global’s implosion, finding an angle that hadn’t been covered – the firing of the company’s chief risk officer more than a year earlier. FINS did a nice analysis not only of what that event meant for MF and its employees, but broadened it out to lessons that would be useful for the entire industry.

 

 

CNNMoney.com

Chris Peacock and CNNMoney Staff

Dow Plunges 635 Points on August 8

The CNNMoney team covered the market turmoil of Aug. 8 from an impressive variety of angles. It was impressive that, so soon after the big news of the U.S.’s credit-rating downgrade by S&P, the group had so many different articles and videos to help readers understand the market impact and what could come next.

 

 

CREATIVE USE ACROSS MULTIPLE PLATFORMS

Digital: 500,000 to 2.5 million

 

GlobalPost

Ioan Grillo, John Dickie, Sarah Childress, Mark Scheffler

Narconomics

We found the website to be very interactive and creative. The stories were inspiring and deeply reported. Given the subject matter, we know the reporters faced an element of risk in filming the video series and they did a superb job.

]

Digital: More than 2.5 million

CNNMoney.com

Gabrielle Solomon

Best Places to Live

Dynamic use of data to create a tool that is useful year-round. But it also uses that data to build good editorial features, such as the lists of “top earners” and such. It’s a little bit more of a tool first than a story that finds creative ways to leverage technology, but it still stands as a good example of how other newsrooms should think about what’s possible.

CNNMoney.com

Blake Ellis, Jordan Malter

America’s Biggest Boomtown

This entry makes use of various media to provide layer after layer of information that shows the oil boom in North Dakota in stunning color and complexity. Video provides a frame, stories a landscape and slideshows give close-ups of individual characters.

MSNBC.com

Allison Linn, Martin Wolk, Jim Seida, John Brecher, John Makely

We are the median

What’s it like to have a median family income? TODAY’s Life Inc. blog (on MSNBC.com) asked its readers and was overwhelmed with responses. Stories were packaged into a series that included a chat, polls, poll comments, text, photos, video and the use of social media on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. The package made heavy use of poll and poll comments and, even a month after the series, stories from families continued to pour in.

 

 

EXPLANATORY

Digital: More than 500,000

ClimateWire

Tiffany Stecker

Europe’s Cap-and-Trade System Brings Jobs to Georgia

Judges felt this article was “compelling” and “surprising” in describing how regional green policies are having an impact on international trade. They also noted that it uses a concrete, data-driven example. It was informative, well-written and comprehensive, providing easy ways to look at complex issue such as carbon offsets and carbon debts.

 

ClimateWire

Joel Kirkland

China’s Energy

This package of stories provided excellent reporting and great narrative detail.

Digital: 500,000 to 2.5 million

 

GlobalPost

Patrick Winn, Emily Lodish

Burma Rebooted

The judges applaud the initiative, imagination and courage shown in focusing on change in Burma, where for too many years truth has been negotiable and criticism of government unwelcome. Patrick Winn investigates recent changes with energy and due skepticism, while allowing the facts to speak for themselves. He writes with zest, humor, and occasional streaks of descriptive brilliance, as in this street scene: “Children dusted head-to-toe in black soot wander downtown like Dickensian chimney sweeps. Dark mold nibbles on colonial structures left behind by the British. The currency is so frayed that shopkeepers offer change in tissues and cigarettes.”

 

Digital: More than 2.5 million

The Motley Fool

Alex Dumortier, Dari FitzGerald

“Low-Risk” Trade That Brought Down MF Global

MF Global was a great tight package. Alex Dumortier did a fine job of translating a dense subject into something a layman can understand. One example is the analogy describing the trades to pocketing the difference between the mortgage and what a renter would pay. The straightforward sequential graphics of how the trades should have gone vs. how they actually went down showed what went wrong. The article also provided a good flavor of Corzine’s personality.

CNNMoney.com

David Goldman

The Cybercrime Economy

Cybercrime was ambitious in its week-long scope and it lived up to that by offering insights into a phenomenon that affects consumers, businesses and national security. This entry shed light on a subject that matters enormously and yet is difficult to explain. The compelling video reports augmented the text well. And the graphics added to the storytelling.

CNNMoney.com

Steve Hargreaves

Military’s War on Oil

Military offers great insights into technology that may be unfamiliar to many viewers. It provides a great service by peeling back the fringe image to showcase how sensible people make dollars-cents-and-lives calculations to go green. The piece also broke the stereotype of the military as non-innovative. And the life-or-death angle was compelling.

 

 

FEATURE

Digital: More than 500,000

 

ClimateWire

Tiffany Stecker

Europe’s Cap-and-Trade System Brings Jobs to Georgia

A quirky idea that was well researched. We liked the ambition in making cap-and-trade a local economic story that questioned the staying power of Georgia’s mushrooming wood-pellet industry.

InsuranceQuotes.com

John Egan, Lisa Shidler

Medical Bills Can Mount for Shooting Victims

A victim’s own research into the cost of his recovery from a shooting spree in a Colorado church provided a different look at how people can be victimized all over again when left with huge medical bills their insurers won’t cover.

 

 

Digital: 500,000 to 2.5 million

GlobalPost

Sarah Childress, Simeon Tegel, Girish Gupta, Nadja Drost, John Otis

The Scramble For El Dorado

 

GlobalPost

Emily Lodish, Patrick Winn, Kathleen E. McLaughlin, Jason Overdorf, Justin McCurry, Tristan McConnell, Kate Lamb, Nicholas Dynan

Rice 2.0

 

 

Digital:  More than 2.5 million

 

CNNMoney.com

David Goldman

Android’s law

Well-reported and nicely written, this was a nice overview of the rapidly changing market for those not already well-versed in the intricacies of cell phone technology. Good use of graphics to enhance the reportin

 

Bankrate.com

Claes Bell, Katherine Lewis, Janna Herron, Marcie Geffner, Stephen Pounds

Financial Reform, One Year Later

A thorough report on which financial reforms are having an impact and which have fallen short a year later, nicely presented.

 

CNBC.com

Jeff Cox

Occupy Wall Street

Excellent work burrowing into a complex topic to dispel some of the myths about who the 1 percent really are.

 

 

GENERAL EXCELLENCE

Digital: 2.5 million

 

FINS.com

Editorial staff of FINS.com

If I were employed (or unemployed) in the financial industry, this would be a must-visit site daily for me. Its combination of original material and aggregated previously published content provides a focused look at the issues driving employment trends in finance. Impressive numbers for such a narrowly defined subject.

 

PolitiFact

Bill Adair, Martha Hamilton, Louis Jacobson

That we have a web site like PolitiFact illustrates how important business and economic issues are to politics. It also shows the extent to which politicians will bend the truth in pursuit of being elected. PolitiFact should be required reading for anyone who takes politics and public policy seriously. Its assertions on the truth or falsehood of public statements are always well-documented and backed up with links to original source materials.

 

 

GENERAL EXCELLENCE

Digital: More than 2.5 million

 

CNET News

CNET Editorial Staff

CNET continues to be one of the dominant forces in covering technology. The writing is sharp, and the journalism strong.

 

MarketWatch

MarketWatch Staff

MarketWatch continues to demonstrate that it is a “go to” source for retail investors seeking everything from a stock quote to investing advice and real-time news. It pulls news from a variety of sources, and does not waste readers’ time.

CNNMoney.com

CNNMoney Staff

 

INVESTIGATIVE

 

Digital: More than 500,000

Center for Public Integrity

Michael Hudson

The Great Mortgage Cover-Up

The reporting is incredibly deep and Michael Hudson has done a marvelous job of storytelling. The role of GE in the subprime meltdown has not been described in such detail. The housing meltdown was such an enormous catastrophe that only with the passage of time could the story be put in perspective.

 

ProPublica

Paul Kiel, Olga Pierce

Foreclosure Crisis

Timely reporting that held banks and government agencies to account for incompetence, malfeasance and foot dragging.

 

Texas Watchdog

Steve Miller

The Hurricane Insurance Hustle

Texas Watchdog has done some fine work in exposing the connections that greased the wheels for powerful people to profit from the Hurricane Ike insurance fund. A pickup truck as part of a severance agreement? Perhaps only in Texas would this be business as usual, but it makes us wish every state had a Watchdog this effective.

 

 

Digital: More than 500,000

 

GlobalPost

Patrick Winn, Emily Lodish

Burma Rebooted

 

GlobalPost

Kathleen E. McLaughlin, Sharron Lovell, Emily Lodish, Mark Scheffler

Relocation Nation

 

 

 

OPINION/COLUMN

Digital: More than 500,000

 

ProPublica

Jesse Eisinger

The Trade Columns

Tight writing and smart sentiments. A compelling blend of reporting and opinion. Clear, writerly approach.

 

Xconomy.com

Luke Timmerman

Biotech columns

Engagingly written. We wanted to read these columns to the end, even though we had no special interest in the biotech area. Interesting context on the industry’s history and current situation as relates to the topics at hand.

 

 

Reuters

Rob Cox, Jeffrey Goldfarb, Robert Cyran, Agnes T. Crane, Antony Currie

Breakingviews Columns

Engaged with strong writing and editing.

 

Digital: 500,000 to 2.5 million

 

GlobalPost

Thomas Mucha

Mucha Columns

Smart, fluent analysis.

 

Digital: More than 2.5 million

 

CNNMoney.com

Paul R. La Monica

The Buzz

Paul LaMonica goes beyond just spouting his opinion and uses reporting to back up what he’s saying. His opinion is clear and reasoned, and he is persuasive, which is what commentary should be about.

 

MarketWatch

Rex Nutting

Columns

Nutting does a great job of explaining the significance of the economic numbers that come out of Washington on a regular basis, and he explains their significance to the average person in a way they can understand.

 

TheStreet.com

Adam Feuerstein

Pharma Fraud

A great series of articles about a major issue many people should care about — fraudulent statements from a publicly traded company. Feuerstein went beyond the press releases to actually check the facts the company was giving everyone and discovered that many of them were complete fabrications.

 

 

CATEGORY: INTERNATIONAL

BLOG

Financial Times

Staff

FTAlphaville

Entries showed eager, timely coverage followed by multidimensional commentary and analysis. It’s intelligent, insightful and addictive.

 

BREAKING NEWS

 

The Financial Times

Financial Times staff

The Eurozone crisis

This topic, ultimately, was more important than any other last year. Comprehensive in scope and rich in detail, this was easily the world’s best series on the eurozone crisis.

 

Reuters

Reuters Staff

The Libyan Revolution

The Libyan revolution wasn’t easily understandable to Americans. Videos showing the death of Gaddafi did little to explain the sea change taking place in the Middle East. This package, however, shed light on the event from many perspectives in large and small ways.

 

The Financial Times

Jonathan Soble, Louise Lucas, Lindsay Whipp

The Olympus Accounting Scandal

Sometimes simplicity works best. A video interview with an executive reveals not only the issue at hand, but also the entirety of Japanese financial culture. Letting the eloquent subject do most of the talking was key in this interview. Less is more.

 

CREATIVE USE ACROSS MULTIPLE PLATFORMS

 

The Globe and Mail

Kevin Carmichael, Greg Keenan, Moe Doiron, Claire Neary, Adriano Valentini

Remade in Canada – The Future of Factories

The ambition of this project was staggering. For non-Canadians, this is the one package that explains it all without resorting to inside baseball.

The Financial Times

Christine Spolar, Jeff Gerth (ProPublica), Megan Murphy, Vanessa Houlder, Johanna Kassel, Benjamin Freese

Tax Wars Series

What could have been a confusing package on accounting ended up being a well-told tale on simple tax dodging — something that happens day in, day out right under governments’ noses.

GlobalPost

Thomas Mucha, David Case, Emily Lodish, Kathleen E. McLaughlin, Justin McCurry, Michael Goldfarb, Jon Jensen, Mark Scheffler

7 Deadly Stories

Last year was eventful on many fronts — politics, economics, world disasters. These journalists saw that 2011 was extraordinary and sought to do something about it. Timely, grand and well-executed, this package had a lot to say — and much to teach.

 

FEATURE

 

Fortune Magazine

James Bandler

Afghan Gold

What great business journalism is all about: Take a great character, a unique and dangerous location, and complex business dealings and turn it into a story the reader can’t wait to finish. It sings with details.

GlobalPost

Sarah Childress, Alex Leff, Nick Miroff

Gangsters’ Paradise

Here is a story that goes beyond the statistics. The reporting is strong. The details are great. The author puts a face on drug use. Combined with the Q&A, these three stories make a strong feature package.

 

The Globe and Mail

Mark Mackinnon

The Empire Sino-Forest Built

From its terrific lead, the author weaves a story of history, business, potential massive fraud, and the impact on the people of rural China. This story is an example of a journalist shining a light where it needs to be shone.

 

EXPLANATORY

 

The Wall Street Journal

Phred Dvorak, Peter Landers Yuka Hayashi, Norihiko Shirouzu, Chester Dawson, Juro Osawa, Yumiko Ono, Mitsuru Obe

Japan Nuclear International

This series brought strong investigative and explanatory journalism to the nuclear crisis in Japan. Informational graphics and writing helped explain a complex story that went way beyond the human tragedy and pointed out potential solutions. Journal reporters detailed how fateful choices dating back to the 1960s made the complex vulnerable to an accident. The stories revealed the chaos and delays in decision-making after the accident began and showed how the large-scale radiation release and effects of the accident continues to haunt the country and will for decades to come.

 

Bloomberg Markets

Michael Smith, Daryna Krasnolutska, David Glovin

Cash, Crime and Human Organs

A tremendous enterprise series that shows the inside story of the human transplant business and the criminal industry spanning four continents that has risen to provide healthy organs to those in the richest countries. A team of 13 reporters in nine countries tracked impoverished people left humiliated, maimed and killed by organ traffickers. It is worth noting that Bloomberg reporter Michael Smith was tailed by secret police in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine while researching this story. Smith even stayed on in Azerbaijan for two weeks in defiance of the police to find more victims of multinational criminal gangs who pay cash for kidneys.

 

The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal Staff

Europe International

Beyond explaining how and why the economic crisis occurred in Europe, The Wall Street Journal showed the impact on the average European citizen through compelling photos, graphics and stories. The series took us from the financial institutions to the politicians to the common man, giving context and reader engagement. The complexity of the subject meant expertise was needed in a wide array of areas including economics, politics, banking, social policy and the financial markets. But the Journal’s coverage met that challenge and excelled – repeatedly breaking news, explaining the scope and causes of the emergency and helping readers to make judgments about what might lie in store. Journal reporters also deployed all the tools of modern journalism to get the story out – breaking news in real-time, contributing to live blogs and frequently appearing on WSJ.com via live video that helped readers stay updated as the unfolding crisis rocked financial markets on a daily, and often hourly, basis.

 

 

INVESTIGATIVE

 

Bloomberg Markets

Michael Smith, Daryna Krasnolutska, David Glovin

Cash, Crime and Human Organs

The dark world of human-organ trafficking comes to light in a frightening and heart-wrenching investigative story. The story uncovers multinational criminal gangs that deal in cash for kidneys, dying patients driving demand, and impoverished donors selling their organs in hopes of a better life. Powerful writing, provocative illustration and illuminating graphics and photography make this package stand out. The writers provided plenty of compelling human detail and did an excellent job laying out the larger issues that have created this underground economy.

 

Financial Times

Christine Spolar, Jeff Gerth (ProPublica), Megan Murphy, Vanessa Houlder, Johanna Kassel, Benjamin Freese

Tax Wars Series

Captivating readers with a tale of tax avoidance is no easy feat, making the The Financial Times’ “Tax Wars” series all the more impressive. The FT teamed up with ProPublica to reveal how banks took advantage of gaps in two countries’ tax laws and how the U.S. government lost billions in the process. A highly readable take on a complex subject, exposing a serious issue in a way that is interesting and understandable to a broad audience. “Tax Wars” is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the corporate tax debate raging in the U.S. today.

 

The Wall Street Journal

Phred Dvorak, Peter Landers Yuka Hayashi, Norihiko Shirouzu, Chester Dawson, Juro Osawa, Yumiko Ono, Mitsuru Obe

Japan Nuclear International

News organizations aspire to “own the story” — to break news, delve deeper and stay ahead of the competition. The Wall Street Journal did this in its coverage of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. The Journal’s team of reporters revealed to readers the nuclear plant’s vulnerabilities, the mishandling of the accident, and the disaster’s effect on the country. WSJ’s Japan nuclear investigation is a stellar example of the value in continuing to dig deep when most other media have headed home.

 

 

OPINION/COLUMN

 

Financial Times

Wolfgang Münchau

Wolfgang Münchau uses a vivid writing style to dig into the hard issues of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. His knowledgeable columns manage to inform an expert audience as well as the general reader with sophisticated and fact-based analysis.

 

 

DIVISION: NEWS AGENCIES

BREAKING NEWS

Bloomberg News

Tom Schoenberg, Sara Forden, Jeff Bliss, Cornelius Rahn, Zachary Mider

Blocking a Deal

 

Bloomberg News

Katherine Burton

Soros to End Four Decades as Hedge Fund Leader by Returning Investor Cash

 

The Associated Press

David Koenig, Scott Mayerowitz, Samantha Bomkamp, Dave Carpenter, Joshua Freed

American Airlines Bankruptcy

Most thorough, comprehensive coverage of all the entries. Context was on the mark, and reporters did a great job of providing historical data. Elements like the timeline added spark.

 

 

CREATIVE USE ACROSS MULTIPLE PLATFORMS

 

Bloomberg News

Cam Simpson

Victoria’s Secret Revealed in Child Picking Burkina Faso Cotton

Through the story of a child laborer, 13-year-old Clarisse, who is forced to pick the fair trade organic cotton destined to end up in Victoria’s Secret underwear, Simpson reveals all the “accomplices to exploitation.” This is great storytelling, with heart-wrenching details delivered in controlled prose. The writer assembles the facts and lets them speak for themselves. A video interview with Clarisse, who unemotionally talks about her plight, and vivid photography make this an unforgettable package. The reader can’t look at feel-good marketing that accompanies fair trade products in the same way. At the end of story, nothing has changed for Clarisse, but the reader is left with the hope that her story will help others like her.

 

Bloomberg News

Vernon Silver, Ben Elgin, Alan Katz

Wired for Repression

Bloomberg’s “Wired for Repression” takes the reader to the dark heart of the Arab Spring where “Western surveillance sales to authoritarian regimes” result in terror, repression and death. The level of detail and the breadth and depth of the investigation makes for jaw-dropping reading and underscores the dangers of a world without privacy. Bloomberg tracks the players and names names of the Western companies benefitting from the “commerce of death.” Wired for Repression is an exhaustive work with the detail of a spy thriller. Video, photography and graphics enhance strong writing. The package also offers an unsettling “glimpse of what the future might hold.”

 

Bloomberg News

Bradley Keoun, Phil Kuntz, Bob Ivry, Craig Torres, Scott Lanman, Christopher Condon, Donal Griffin, Greg Stohr and Matthew Winkler

The Fed’s Trillion-Dollar Secret

Bloomberg’s “Fed’s Trillion Dollar Secret” digs up the facts the Federal Reserve Bank was determined to hide and every American deserved to know: What banks were benefitting from $1.2 trillion dollars in bailout money and how much did they get. It took a FOIA request, a lawsuit and a Supreme Court decision to begin to get answers — in 29,000 pages of documents — testament to the reporters’ dogged pursuit of the truth. In the process, the reporting uncovers a trail of misinformation and lies from both the government and the banks. This is a tour de force, a tale of desperation and greed told with patience and clarity. This package of 20 stories — backed by databases, graphics, photography and explanatory videos — strikes a blow against government secrecy. It is a tribute to reporter Mark Pittman who began the investigation but didn’t live to see the result. His team of colleagues deserves high praise for their unwavering commitment to complete the task.

 

 

EXPLANATORY

Bloomberg News

Cam Simpson, Alan Katz, Simon Clark, Heather Walsh

Anything But Fair

This series illustrates how the right personal stories can bring to life a complex issue. It clearly explains how the international fair-trade agreement works, why there is so much at stake for those involved, and how the system’s flaws prevent it from improving the lives of the farmers and laborers it’s designed to help. The judges appreciated the range of perspectives these stories, photos and videos captured. The farmers, the child laborers, the corporations, the consumers and those hoping to change the system – all were represented through patient and thorough reporting.

 

Reuters

Scot Paltrow

Robo-Signing Redux

The judging panel appreciated the detail and clarity of these features, which explain the process of robo-signing, as well as other dubious practices, that helped produce thousands of illegal documents that in turn were used by banks to foreclose on home loans. Clear prose, good art and design, and solid reporting and story-telling with an emphasis on the consumer combine for a broad, thorough and vibrant explanation of a timely and important topic.

 

Bloomberg News

Bradley Keoun, Phil Kuntz, Bob Ivry, Craig Torres, Scott Lanman, Christopher Condon, Donal Griffin, Greg Stohr and Matthew Winkler

The Fed’s Trillion-Dollar Secret

This entry excelled at unpacking a massive amount of complex data and thoroughly explaining its importance. Before this series, the public could only guess at the scale of the Federal Reserve’s actions to keep some of the big banks afloat during the 2008 financial crisis. It’s a tremendous effort notable not just for the thoroughness of its analysis and reporting, but also for its related impact on the Fed’s transparency.

 

 

FEATURE

Reuters

Scot Paltrow

The Congressman with Banks on the Side

A crisply written, painstakingly reported account of the way banking really works in a place like Georgia.  In the process, Paltrow has also done a public service, unearthing evidence that Representative Phil Gingrey of the state’s 11th congressional district may have violated House ethics rules barring members from serving as paid directors of corporate boards.

 

The Associated Press

Bernard Condon

Farmland Boom

Kudos to Bernard Condon for uncovering a man bites dog story on the cornfields of Michigan. Here is the tale of a software engineer who plowed so much money into the purchase of hundreds of acres of farmland that people who actually grow corn for a living were left shaking their heads. Welcome to the world of the new breed of gentlemen farmers.

 

The Associated Press

Bernard Condon, Randy Herschaft

Madoff Victim’s Lawyer

Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee seeking the return of money to the victims of Bernard Madoff, likes to keep a low profile. This AP feature uses interviews with people who know him to tell the evocative tale of Picard’s often thankless task.

 

 

INVESTIGATIVE

The Associated Press

Jeff Donn

Aging Nukes

This is an ambitious series about a topic of increasing significance: the life cycle of first-generation nuclear power plants. Each story in the series carried its weight, adding up to a well-written, accessible set of articles that deftly tested real-time claims against the historical record.

 

Scripps Howard News Service

Isaac Wolf, Thomas Hargrove

Grave Mistakes

The analysis of the abuse of government data was enterprising and impressive, and the human consequences of that abuse were richly documented and told in a crisp, concise fashion. A timely and powerful series that included much-needed protective advice for consumers.

 

Bloomberg News

Peter Waldman

Preparing Americans for Death Lets Hospices Neglect End of Life

A gripping topic addressed with impressive enterprise and compelling anecdotes. Careful but painful accounts of current abuses were woven into the history of this evolving industry, adding insights and depth to our understanding of the issue.

 

OPINION/COLUMN

 

Reuters

Jack Schafer

Jack Shafer Columns

Shafer is a delight to read; feisty, humorous, lively detail.

 

Dow Jones Newswires

Al Lewis

Al’s Emporium Column

Lewis moves the reader quickly through an engaging story.

 

Dow Jones Newswires

Neal Lipschutz

Point of View Column

Lipschultz’s columns are important and readable.

 

 

PERSONAL FINANCE

 

Money Magazine

Lisa Gibbs

Consumer Protection

Thorough body of work on how older Americans are often vulnerable to unscrupulous operators. It could just as well be your mom or dad or your grandparents, and they might not tell you what they’ve done with their money out of pride and independence. Gibbs navigated through a sea of complexity to expose bad practices and then come up with ways to identify and deal with them. The scamming of seniors is a running story everyone can relate to, no matter what age or level of personal wealth.

 

The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

Teresa Dixon Murray

On Money

Dixon Murray did her due diligence. Anyone who can pore over 30,000 pages of boilerplate, user-unfriendly Fed documents and come out of it with a thorough, readable story on the health of their local banks deserves our respect. She dug into widespread debit card fraud in Ohio and, unlike similar stories we read, persisted with heavily sourced, well-explained material. That made for a compelling series. Most notably, she nailed a serious flaw in the system when she signed for her own credit card purchases with names like “Daffy Duck” and “Mother Nature” — nobody asked any questions. How much more personal does finance get than a debit or credit card?

 

The Wall Street Journal

Jason Zweig

The Intelligent Investor

His succinct, sharply written columns are informative and accessible, and he’s clearly not afraid to rattle some cages. He gave us a warning about the silver crash, punctured exaggerated claims for funds’ returns, showed how investors vacillated over the debt-ceiling crisis last summer just as much as Congress did and documented how the Occupy Movement’s protests about Wall Street practices are actually rather mild by the measure of similar protests a century and more ago. While some personalities use their platforms for self-promotion, Zweig uses his to scrutinize what they say and to truth-squad them if necessary.

 

DIVISION: PRINT – DAILY NEWSPAPERS

 

BLOG

Dailies: 25,000 to 100,000

 

The (Quincy MA) Patriot Ledger:

Jon Chesto

Mass. Market blog

 

Dailies: 100,000 to 200,000

 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Elisabeth Ponsot, Laura Olson, Erich Schwartzel, Laura Malt Schneiderman, Steve Mellon

Pipeline

 

The Des Moines Register

Philip Brasher, Dan Piller

Green Fields

 

Hartford Courant

Matthew Sturdevant

Insurance Capital Blog

 

Dailies: 200,000 to 500,000

 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Tom Daykin

Land and Space blog

Daykin’s aggressive reporting and accessible, explanatory writing make him a must-read for his tight-knit and highly engaged audience. Daykin uses the blog medium effectively with frequent updates to keep his readers informed in real-time and connecting and engaging with them in the comments.

 

The Orange County Register

Jonathan Lansner, Jeff Collins, Marilyn Kalfus

Lansner on Real Estate

“Lansner on Real Estate” demonstrates how a blog serves its readers with news-driven coverage that is both fierce and fun. The blog delivers a mix of surprising topics, strong local reporting and regular statistical analysis. Lansner and Collins seem to have an intimate sense of what their readers want; and they deliver with substance and wit.

 

Charlotte Observer

Andrew Dunn, Kirsten Valle Pittman

Bank Watch

Dunn and Pittman power their blog with the immediacy, smarts, skepticism and engagement their readers demand.

 

 

Dailies: More than 500,000

 

Houston Chronicle

Dwight Silverman

TechBlog

Silverman does what blogs should do. He delivers breaking news straight from sources, not from the work of other journalists, He writes with a distinctive voice, provides smart analysis and is accessible to readers without his obvious command of the subject. He makes good use of multimedia — charts, pictures, screen grabs, videos — to show what he’s telling.

 

BREAKING NEWS

Dailies: 25,000 to 100,000

 

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Michael Braga, Matthew Doig

14 Indicted in Major Flipping Conspiracy

Phenomenal visual packaging of a complex, deeply reported story, and smart pairing of the straight news coverage with a community-impact article.

 

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Michael Pollick, Doug Sword

Jackson Lab Picks Sarasota County

Jobs are the main local story, and this represents an appropriate amount of effort on an important subject.

 

Ventura County Star

Stephanie Hoops

Feds Take Over Debt Collection Business

Hard work and tenacity paid off for this reporter. Detailed, easy to read, nicely done.

 

Dailies: 100,000 to 200,000

 

The Detroit News

David Shepardson

CAFE Standards

A genuine scoop on a widely relevant topic. The author did an excellent job of explaining to readers why they should care, what the likely impact would be on the cost of owning a car and how the news fit into the broader context of the conflict between environmentalists and automakers.

 

Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Andrew Gomes, Rob Perez

Hawaiian Electric Suitor

A compelling package that takes a rumor/wire flash and chases down the story in a timely and comprehensive fashion. A skeptical and incisive analysis of Kuokoa’s plan to take over Hawaiian Electric Industries, along with useful background on Roald Marth, the man behind Kuokoa.

 

The Detroit News

Jaclyn Trop

Final Chapter for Borders

A compelling, crisply written narrative that chronicled the demise of bookstore chain Borders and the last-ditch effort to keep the business solvent. A graphic timeline of the company’s rise and fall was a smart and useful accompaniment. Quotes from Borders customers and the company’s president, the investors who tried to buy the chain, the mayor of Ann Arbor and an unsympathetic small bookstore owner all breathed life and local interest into what otherwise might have been a dry, straightforward account.

 

Dailies: 200,000 to 500,000

 

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Andrea Ahles, Bob Cox, Gordon Dickson, Scott Nishimura, Mitchell Schnurman

American Airlines Bankruptcy

Really nice job exploring the local angles of the AMR bankruptcy, like what this bankruptcy could mean to another big local employer – the DFW airport. The report delved into the role labor unions played in AMR’s demise and took a shot at defining what the airline might look like going forward, among other stories. A very comprehensive package.

 

The Seattle Times

Dominic Gates

Boeing, Union Seal Deal

The Seattle paper took apart the Boeing labor pact announcement and explained the historical significance of it – not the least of which was the role it could play in helping the Puget Sound region get back on its economic feet.

 

The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe Business staff

Stock Plunge

Excellent explanation of the effect of the stock market tumble on the lives of ordinary people, not just the 1%, putting the economic ramifications into context. Readers got many sides to the story, not just a recounting of the numbers. What financial reporting on the effects of the stock market should be. Great job all around.

 

Dailies: More than 500,001

 

The New York Times

The New York Times Staff

MF Global Bankruptcy

This report on not just of the bankruptcy of MF Global but the startling discovery that hundreds of millions of dollars of customer money invested with the brokerage firm had gone missing exemplifies breaking news coverage at its finest. The New York Times dominated the fast-breaking coverage of this major news story, which remained in the headlines throughout the last quarter of 2011.

 

CREATIVE USE ACROSS MULTIPLE PLATFORMS

Dailies: 100,000 to 200,000

 

The (Memphis, TN) Commercial Appeal

Daniel Connolly, Amos Maki, Michael Erskine, Grant Smith

Landing Electrolux

Good package of data, documents, and reporting.

 

Dailies: 200,000 to 500,000

 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Dan Chapman, Michael Kanell

Atlanta Forward

So much for Hotlanta. This ambitious, comprehensive and servicey project used every trick imaginable — scorecards, video, even a game — to examine Atlanta’s viability, painting a picture of a city now crumbling in a post-Olympic haze. Traffic, resources, education and jobs all weigh heavily on Atlanta’s future to move forward. The judges were wowed by its interactive, and, truly creative, scope.

 

The Boston Globe

Jenn Abelson, Beth Daley

Fishy Business

We had no idea something fishy was going on with our fish until we read this gorgeously executed package. But we were hooked by the smart, extensive slideshow of restaurants serving cheap substitutes. The high-quality reportage in the video added to the project’s lure. Kudos for keeping this undertaking fresh with a recent update on state regulations.

 

Dailies: More than 500,000

 

StarTribune (Minneapolis)

Staff

Ford Plant Shutdown

The team used every journalistic resource to turn what could have been a simple story of a plant shutdown into a complex look at our economy, providing insight and pointing to solutions.

 

The Wall Street Journal

Jason Bellini, Jonathan Cheng, Mary Pilon

Anticipating a Downgrade of U.S. Debt

Great work taking a complicated and much-covered story and make it understandable “even to my mother” in the words of one judge. “They took a process story and by dynamic reporting made people care about it,” said another.

 

 

EXPLANATORY

Dailies: 25,000 to 100,000

 

The Roanoke Times

Matt Chittum, Megan Schnabel

Food Deserts Parch Roanoke Residents of Nutrition

This deeply reported story transcended the daily business formula. The reporter brought to life economic and demographic data, showing the wide variety of health and business issues that result from the lack of food options in needy neighborhoods — all framed within one family’s grocery run.

 

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Michael Pollick

In Foreclosure, Fees That Haunt

In economical, straightforward prose, the reporter explains a lesser-known development in the foreclosure crisis.

 

Dailies: 100,000 to 200,000

 

The Providence Journal

Tom Mooney, Paul Edward Parker, Barbara Polichetti

Understanding R.I.’s Pension Puzzle

Rhode Island lies near the center of the U.S. public pension crisis and the Providence Journal devoted substantial reporting and editing resources to quantifying and qualifying the funding problem in “The Pension Puzzle.” Paul Edward Parker and colleagues performed in journalism’s noblest tradition to wrest this story to the ground, including taking pains to collect audited statements for each of Rhode Island’s public plans. Reaction was swift: “New R.I. pension tab leaves many local leaders stunned.” Inspiring body of work.

 

The (Memphis, TN) Commercial Appeal

Ted Evanoff

Genius at Work

Morgan Keegan’s rise and fall offered a golden opportunity for grounding a big story in the low-rise Mid-South. Fund manager Jim Kelsoe, the math wiz left alone by his boss to make cash stockpiles multiply, is introduced as an inviting character through whom to tell this story as the subprime balloon burst. And billionaire John Paulson, who bet against the house and won, ending up with a big stake in Morgan’s corporate parent, Regions Financial, is somebody for the reader to keep score by. Congratulations on stepping back from the daily news grind to polish the big picture for readers.

 

The Detroit News

David Shepardson, Christina Rogers

GM: A Chastened Detroit Icon Claws Its Way Back

The Detroit News elevated the daily story of GM’s comeback so that it becomes part of the central narrative in the city’s socio-economic history. The CEO interview was particularly insightful and effective.

 

Dailies: 200,000 to 500,000

 

The Boston Globe

Jenn Abelson and Beth Daley

Fishy Business

A national eye-opener. The investigation was broad and fair, capturing a number of businesses in white lies; some even corrected their menus. This series should inform our fish buying and eating habits.

 

The Arizona Republic

Ronald J. Hansen

Business Taxes

Great job of reporting and explaining, especially the thoroughness of 15 years of data to show the trend.

 

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Lou Kilzer

China Syndrome

Terrific reporting on China business interests informed by a wide swath of sources in business, analysis and government. Impressive.

 

Dailies: More than 500,000

 

Washington Post

Lori Montgomery, Brady Dennis, Alec McGillis
Running in the Red – U.S Debt

This series from The Washington Post was superbly reported, beautifully written and brought to life a difficult and potentially dull topic — the escalating U.S. federal deficit. The series wrestled a serious and consequential subject to the ground and analyzed it from a variety of perspectives, examining the historical, the political, the economic and the human elements.

 

Los Angeles Times

Ken Bensinger

Wheels of Fortune

A stunning series about how, through entirely legal practices, an entire sub-industry of used car dealers is taking advantage of poor people with poor credit ratings. Through what are called Buy Here Pay Here dealerships, desperate buyers are purchasing worn-out cars for exorbitant prices and agreeing to borrowing terms with rates sometimes above 20 percent. The buyers often can’t keep up their payments, the dealers quickly repossess the cars, resell them at inflated prices and then sue to force full payment of the original contract. This well-written and illuminating series illustrates clearly just how far some consumers will go in extremely difficult economic circumstances, and at the same time, how far some businesses will go to make a profit.

 

The New York Times

Ian Urbina

Drilling Down—Natural Gas

The New York Times has taken an important local topic, but one with national energy and economic implications, and used explanatory and investigative reporting to break new ground on the crucial energy issues facing the U.S. The Times examined the health, regulatory, economic, political and human impact of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. Bolstering the series were consistently stellar graphics, which helped explain industry practices, inherent risks and dangers and other key aspects of gas exploration and acquisition. Throughout the series, the reporting was careful, thoughtful and thorough — masterful work that will no doubt have a continuing impact on regulators, drillers and consumers.

 

FEATURE

 

Dailies: 25,000 to 100,000

 

Florida Today

Patrick Peterson

Scrap Daddy

Fascinating microcosm of the economy that spoke to the levels of entrepreneurship people display when faced with diversity. Incredible gripping elements of what people have to do to make it, what people are willing to do to survive. Shows on a local level how global demand is pushing up prices for these metals and giving people economic incentive to collect and recycle.

 

Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.)

Denise Allabaugh

Winds of Change

Well-balanced take on a controversial topic. Showed the tension between environmental concerns and the need for energy and government revenue, a debate being played out all over the country. A useful, educational piece.

 

Florida Today

Patrick Peterson

Bright Idea Man

Engaging and entertaining writing about a quirky character that also offered insight for potential investors about a company’s prospects.

 

 

Dailies: 100,000 to 200,000

 

The Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City)

Bryan Painter

Drought

 

The Providence (RI) Journal

Alex Kuffner

The Toll Oil Prices Take

 

The (Montreal) Gazette

Lynn Moore

Playing with Chance

 

 

Dailies: 200,000 to 500,000

The Financial Times

David Gelles, Gillian Tett

Madoff Spins His Story

When the Financial Times’ David Gelles and Gillian Tett got one of the first prison interviews with the Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, they did much more than let Madoff tell his side of the story of his $65 billion fraud. Through their contextual reporting, and their cinematic writing about the interview itself, they let the reader assess the man and his motives. Without taking a position themselves, Gelles and Tett gave readers 6,000 highly readable words on which to draw their own conclusions.

 

The Boston Globe

Jenn Abelson, Beth Daley

Fishy Business

A literal tale of bait and switch. In this case, the bait was fish, which reporters found was being widely misrepresented on restaurant menus and in markets in Massachusetts. The two turned their five-month investigation, based on DNA testing and interviews with dozens of merchants, into a compelling and well-written feature. The piece led to federal and state investigations, as well as changes in practices by more than a dozen supermarkets and restaurants. We were hooked from the first graf.

 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Cary Spivak

Demise of Marshall & Ilsley Corporation

A strong story for the historical record, one that told of the sad decline of a Milwaukee and Wisconsin institution. The story underscored how changes in risk exposure and in leadership, if not the right ones, can undermine even a venerable, longstanding bank such as Marshall & Ilsley. The report also reminds readers how companies that are intertwined with a state’s history and social fabric have a responsibility to guard that position.

 

Dailies: More than 500,001

 

The New York Times

David Segal

The Dirty Little Secrets of Search

A well-written, well researched story about the flaws in the search process most readers probably were not aware of. The writer offered some great examples of how the search process had been compromised.

 

Detroit Free Press

Katherine Yung

Work Wanted – Desperately

Unemployment — especially long-term unemployment — was the most critical economic issue of 2011. This series of articles offers some good character stories about the impact on individuals and families. It also seeks to dispel some of the myths about people who have been out of work for months or years.

 

Los Angeles Times

Alana Semuels

Down but Not Out

The housing crisis was at the root cause of the steep recession, but finally there are some faint signs of life in the residential housing market in one of the hardest hit areas. This story, written at a time when most of news about housing remained grim, was prescient in its ability to find some evidence of revival in one of the hardest hit markets in the country. The story is well written and well-constructed.

 

GENERAL EXCELLENCE

Dailies: 25,000 to 100,000

 

The Patriot Ledger

Steve Adams, Jon Chesto, Shaunna Gately, Alex Spanko, Patrick Ronan

Sections had a good quantity of staff-written articles on a nice variety of subjects. Stories of local interest, from farmers’ markets to presents for dogs to profiles of area companies, received intelligent and relevant treatment and were delivered in a visually attractive and enjoyably readable style.

 

Dailies: 100,000 to 200,000

The Detroit News

Joanna Firestone, Alan Derringer, Richard Burr, Greg Tasker, Mary Bailey, Daniel Howes, Scott Burgess, David Shepardson, Bryce Hoffman, Louis Aguilar, Melissa Burden, Brian O’Connor and Jaclyn Trop

By any measure, The Detroit News delivered excellent business coverage in 2011. It’s natural to expect the News to own the auto beat, but how many newspapers still live up to lofty expectations? On tight deadlines, the staff produced definitive reports on the labor talks that reshaped the auto industry, including a leaked memo from the Chrysler CEO. Clear writing and strong graphics were constants, and the solid news judgment was sometimes surprising. The judges loved an enterprising report on a spike in land prices in a blighted part of downtown; the motive and buyer remained a mystery, but the News delivered a must-read by asking the right questions and following every thread. This is an organization that still has impressive resources. More important, The Detroit News knows what to do with them.

 

The Gazette (Montreal)

Jeff Blond, Paul Delean, Jay Bryan, Francois Shalom, Lynn Moore, Allison Lampert, Jason Magder, Alison MacGregor

 

Dailies: 200,000 to 500,000

The Financial Times

The Financial Times staff

The standard was very high throughout, and the topics are timely and relevant. Whether it’s breaking news on the European Central Bank or analysis of the American political climate, the FT does a great job covering its core area.

 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Journal Sentinel Business News Staff

The investigative efforts from this entry were impressive, with real and interesting people profiled, dots connected in the narratives and stand-out stories overall. The visual layout and the photographs were also quite good.

 

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Nirmala Bhat, Dean Calbreath, Mike Freeman, Janet LaVelle, Morgan Lee, Lily Leung, Tanya Mannes, Diana McCabe, Greg Schmidt, Roger Showley, Jim Watters, Lori Weisberg

Content such as a strong executive-pay package and quality profiles of local businesspeople helped distinguish this entry. The amount of staff-written content was impressive as well.

 

 

Dailies:  More than 500,000

 

The New York Times

The New York Times Staff

Simply in a class by itself, it has more people, more space, more stories, more talent than any competing general interest daily. It blankets economics, finance, political economy, regulation, international. Its stable of columnists is awesome: in this sampling alone, Morgenson, Lieber, Leonhardt, Stewart, Carr and others. And it does investigative work, probing the tax avoidance strategies of Ron Lauder.

 

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times Business Staff

On any given day, it’s still as good as anyone, despite enormous staff cuts. The focus is local (Stuart Pfeiffer’s pursuit of fatal weight-loss lap-band surgery), national (Bank of America’s huge layoff plans) and international, particularly Pacific Rim (China’s new rich guys display their status flaunting leather man-bags to carry their dual cell phones and bulging billfolds). In Columnist Mike Hiltzik, it may have a worthy successor to Allan Sloan as the nation’s sharpest-tongued exposer of bad business behavior.

 

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Star Tribune Business Staff

It punches far above its weight, blanketing and penetrating the industries and big companies most relevant to its upper Midwest readership. Mike Hughlett provides searching insights into how the region’s top purveyors of processed meats and breakfast cereals strive to squeeze out salt and sugar but still keep their stuff seductively tasty. David Phelps exposes financial misbehavior by the scion of one of the region’s richest families.

 

 

INVESTIGATIVE

Dailies: Under 25,000

 

American Banker/SourceMedia

Jeff Horwitz, Kate Berry

Revolving Door

In revealing some questionable ties between a government official and the industry it regulates, this piece exemplifies excellent investigative reporting drawn from documents, good use of FOIA and also good sourcing. The reporters clearly waded through a lot of material, but the piece remains focused. The follow-up, holding a former public official accountable for his record, using the measure he used to defend himself, is an excellent example of accountability journalism, and a strong supporting piece for the original.

 

American Banker/SourceMedia

Jeff Horwitz

Kickbacks

A thoroughly reported piece that provides insight into a pernicious, long-standing problem that few outside the industry knew about, and which regulators had done little to fight (until recently). It also provides good insight into the process by which a promising government investigation can wither on the vine.

 

American Banker/SourceMedia

Kate Berry

Robo-Signing

A new wrinkle on the robo-signing mortgage scandal is revealed in a compelling way that clarifies and doesn’t confuse. A balanced report that raises questions about backdated documentation to facilitate foreclosures but doesn’t pass judgment.

 

Dailies: 25,000 to 100,000

 

The News-Press (Fort Myers)

Dick Hogan

Flopping: Fraud Runs Rampant

An examination of real-estate transactions uncovered a wave of deals in Southwest Florida in which real-estate agents profited as banks unloaded foreclosed properties at below-market costs. The story used industry voices, a database search and graphics to show readers how the process works, and who wins and loses. It gave readers a fresh perspective on the ongoing distress in the housing market. The piece impressed us with how thoughtfully it investigated an issue of great concern right now that has implications for a variety of stakeholders, from taxpayers to homeowners to banks, yet that has gone under reported because of the “gray area” nature of these transactions. It took on the ethical and legal ambiguities of such practices with clarity, and with an eye toward the human significance of the data that was being unearthed.

 

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Michael Braga, Matthew Doig

First Priority’s Collapse

More than a year after Florida’s first bank failure, the Sarasota newspaper used documents and interviews to tell a story about what happened at the four-year-old bank before it was seized by regulators. The autopsy of the bank’s failure gave readers a rare, fascinating, and frightening look behind the scenes and showed how regulators are seeking to recoup the losses incurred on the failure.

 

Dailies: 100,000 to 200,000

 

The (Memphis, TN) Commercial Appeal

Daniel Connolly and Amos Maki

Landing Electrolux

Fascinating package that details economic incentives package Electrolux received for its new Memphis plant that sat vacant for 25 years. Well-written accompanying articles on company’s leaders and strategies; good behind-the-scenes anecdotes; impressive online goodies.

 

Knoxville News Sentinel

Josh Flory

Down the Drain

Comprehensive, detailed package gives readers a sense of problems involving the state’s 182 water utility districts, factors behind their issues, and their impact. Fantastic graphics.

 

The Providence Journal

Paul Edward Parker, Tom Mooney

Uncovering Unfunded Pension Liabilities in Rhode Island

Effectively put in perspective a complicated issue. These stories explored every angle, looked back and ahead, answered every question. Sheer volume of research alone makes this entry worthy of recognition.

 

Dailies:  200,000 to 500,000

 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Raquel Rutledge, Rick Barrett, John Diedrich, Ben Poston

Shattered Trust

A perfectly executed specimen of investigative reporting, pairing the heart-rendering tale of a child’s death with a huge-size-and-scope examination of the Food and Drug Administration’s failures to safeguard the public interest. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has done it again. Outstanding, exceptional work.

The Seattle Times

Michael Berens and Ken Armstrong

Methadone and the Politics of Pain

Brilliant, shoe-leather reporting combined with smart, innovative data analysis changed state policy and undoubtedly saved lives. The Seattle Times has served the public well. Bravo!

 

The Orlando Sentinel

Jim Stratton

Workforce Central Florida

A wonderful example of the impact reporters can have when they start to peel back the layers of a truly rotten onion. Great results. Great digging. These are the types of corruption stories all government beat reporters should be on the lookout for.

 

Dailies: More than 500,000

 

The Wall Street Journal

Paul Sonne, Steve Stecklow, Matt Bradley, Farnaz Fassihi, Loretta Chao, Margaret Coker

Censorship, Inc.

We were impressed by not just the stories but the degree of difficulty encountered in doing the research. Freedom of information requests don’t work in the Middle East and with western businesses, meaning the reporters had to rely on doing this the old-fashioned way — sources. This series was a public service to the world.

 

The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal Staff

Inside Track

The writers pull back the curtain on dirty dealings on Wall Street and in Washington in a detailed, colorful fashion that leaves the reader both outraged and intrigued.

 

USA Today Money Section

Thomas Frank

Public-Sector Pensions

The judges agreed that the writer took on a monumental task: there are hundreds of public pension systems in the country and he examined most if not all of them to bring together this expose about how the public servants we put our trust in manipulate the system for their own benefit.

 

 

OPINION/COLUMN

Dailies: 100,000 to 200,000

The Providence Journal

John Kostzrewa, assistant managing editor

 

Hartford Courant

Dan Haar

 

The Detroit News

Brian J. O’Connor

 

Dailies:  200,000 to 500,000

 

The Baltimore Sun

Columns by Jay Hancock

Strong voice combined with reporting.

 

Financial Times

Columns by John Gapper

Very strong writing, well-reasoned, persuasive. Makes you care.

 

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

Columns by Mitchell Schnurman

Forceful, brings passion to local issues that matter.

 

Dailies: Over 500,000

The New York Times

Gretchen Morgenson

Fair Game

Morgenson combines her astute journalism with terrific character-based narratives to deliver hard-hitting columns that teach, inform and entertain readers.

 

Washington Post

Ezra Klein

There is no one better at writing about health care issues than Ezra Klein. And he’s pretty strong in other areas, too. Very powerful material.

 

The New York Times

David Carr

The Media Equation

David Carr is fearless. He combines great investigative reporting with lively writing. The pieces are beautifully crafted and quite thoughtful.

 

CATEGORY: PRINT – MAGAZINES

BLOG

 

SmartMoney Magazine

SmartMoney staff

Blog

A series of well-written personal finance pieces devoted to helping readers make sense of the breaking business and financial news. The value delivered is impressive in its brevity and timeliness.

 

CREATIVE USE ACROSS MULTIPLE PLATFORMS

Magazines: Over 500,000

Forbes

Tom Post, Matthew Schifrin, Jenna Goudreau

Private Equity Chief Lynn Tilton

With smart mix of multiple interlinking original posts and Web source material, Goudreau skillfully engaged readers in the journey she undertook as she unraveled the mysterious tale of Lynn Tilton, a self-proclaimed, self-made billionairess. The result is a fascinating look at the story behind the story, as the subject of this piece unsuccessfully tried to manipulate its telling. Forbes showed creativity and resourcefulness and wound up with a fascinating package that really rewarded attention across two platforms. It felt not just comprehensive, but exciting and fun.

 

 

EXPLANATORY

Magazines: Less than 75,000

 

HousingWire

HousingWire editorial staff

The Elephant in the Room

Comprehensive and straightforward examination of the mess that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now and the alternatives for cleaning them up. Nicely reported, with quotes that consistently advanced the narrative. Great layout, featuring graphics that captured the scope of this far-reaching economic and political challenge.

 

Magazines 2: 75,000 to 500,000

New York Magazine

Steve Fishman

Madoff on Madoff: The Madoff Tapes

This dramatic, compelling and highly readable story was the result of remarkably tenacious and ingenious work. The author offered fascinating glimpses into the psyche of Bernie Madoff, now in prison for the largest Ponzi scheme in history. He also wove in intriguing insights on other significant topics, such as the Madoff family and his own process of contacting Madoff.

 

Bloomberg Markets

Yoolim Lee, Ruth David

When Microfinance Goes Wrong

This eye-opening article ripped the veil of rosy press coverage from the phenomenon of micro-lending in India. Micro-lending has been widely hailed as a model for helping poor people throughout the world, including in the U.S. The story put a human face on both ends of the equation – the micro-lenders and their clients, some of whom get in far over their heads. The article added significant perspective, background and context on an important issue.

 

Bloomberg Markets

Stephanie Baker

Shaking Up the Old Boys Club

This profile of a woman’s crusade to bring about significant change personalizes the struggle to against discrimination, and in doing so, shines new light on the problem. A fascinating, deeply reported piece about a continued problem.

 

Magazines:  Over 500,000

 

Bloomberg Businessweek

Felix Gillette, Businessweek staff

Casino

Sharp, tight, thorough, balanced, insightful, this report had tons of great facts and anecdotes that only come from smart on-the-ground reporting.

 

Fortune Magazine

Adam Lashinsky

Inside Apple

This article manages a difficult task: Saying something new about one of the most-watched and most-analyzed companies in the world.

 

 

SmartMoney Magazine

Matt Heimer, Reshma Kapadia

Investing Reinvented

 

FEATURE

Magazines: Less than 75,000

Columbia Journalism Review

Dean Starkman

Confidence Game: Limited Vision of the News Gurus

 

Mortgage Banking

Terry Sheridan

Short on Results

 

D CEO

Glenn Hunter

Gold Metal Recyclers

 

Magazines 2: 75,000 to 500,000

New York Magazine

Steve Fishman

Madoff on Madoff: The Madoff Tapes

The story behind the story detailing how the writer got the interview with Madoff is as compelling as the article itself. But the execution of the profile, especially how it is structured, makes it a brilliant read, even amid all the profiles of Madoff that have been written so far.

 

Institutional Investor

Alexander Osipovich

Browder’s War

A striking example of great on-the-record sourcing, and a real sense of authority in the story telling.

 

Bloomberg Markets

Michael Smith

Lethal Commerce

 

Magazines: Over 500,000

Forbes

Steven Bertoni

Agent of Disruption

Good use of the first-person, amazing access that clearly took some real work to get. Best of all, some really interesting insights into a fascinating figure in American business. This piece was not only well-written and enjoyable, it tackled a subject who is difficult to pin down, giving the reader insight into someone who is at once well-known and greatly misunderstood. It was well constructed and went well below the surface to reveal a lot about a complex subject.

 

Fortune Magazine

David Whitford

Sandler

A very powerful and moving piece of journalism on a tough guy who rose to an incredible challenge. The style and tone are so unexpected, and they work beautifully. The writer stepped in some thorny bushes with this story – taking on the idea of profiting from the tragedy of Sept. 11 – and he did it so matter-of-factly and bravely that it took the story to a much deeper level. This story managed to elicit strong emotions while also giving good insights about the company to a business reader.

 

SmartMoney Magazine

Anne Kadet

Cashathon

Before Susan G. Komen recently blew up, this piece was already looking under the hood of the big-event charity-athon movement. It marries solid investigation with entertaining story-telling. Good topic that touches everyone and solid findings.

 

 

GENERAL EXCELLENCE

Magazines: Less than 75,000

 

D CEO Magazine

Glenn Hunter, Christine Perez

D CEO had a nice, professional presentation and clearly understands its audience. The articles had strong points of view and gave readers new insight into some of the most powerful and interesting people in the Dallas area.

 

Magazines: Over 500,000

 

Bloomberg Businessweek

Josh Tyrangiel

The revitalized weekly magazine showcased substantive content. It had strong pieces on areas where the rest of the media wasn’t looking, such as why bond investors like Ireland and how the Mississippi is still prone to flooding. The art is original and the covers are striking. Strong opening remarks column by Romesh Ratnesar on the meaning of 9/11.

 

Fortune

Andy Serwer

The magazine showcased a surprising diversity of subjects, from the flagship Fortune 500 to James Bandler’s article on JPMorgan’s hunt for gold in Afghanistan, which included stunning photos. Roger
Parloff’s story on investing in lawsuits was troubling, built on hard-to-dig-up information.

 

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine

Knight A. Kiplinger, Kevin McCormally, Janet Bodnar

The magazine had smart writing with get-to-the-point advice with useful packages.

 

INVESTIGATIVE

Magazines: 75,000 to 500,000

 

Barron’s

Bill Alpert

The Troubles at Fairholme Fund

A wonderfully detailed reporting job about the fall of superstar fund manager Bruce Berkowitz and his ill-advised reliance on Charles Fernandez, an inexperienced cohort with a troubled past.

 

Bloomberg Markets

Asjylyn Loder, David Evans, Leigh Baldwin, Angela Cullen, Elisa Martinuzzi

The Secret Sins of Koch Industries

A meticulous, well-organized report that documents decades of price fixing, theft, bribery and environmental violations by one of the world’s largest privately held companies. Offers a staggering amount of information about a private corporation, through both internal documents and on-the-record interviews. The result: A mind-boggling litany of crimes and misdeeds by an unrestrained, unrepentant conglomerate.

 

Bloomberg Markets

Michael Smith, Daryna Krasnolutska, David Glovin

Global Black Market Human Organs

A haunting package of stories about people on four continents who have been kidnapped, maimed and killed by organ traffickers and the doctors with whom they work. “Cash, Criminals and Human Organs” exposes transplant rings supplying wealthy Americans, Europeans and Israelis with kidneys – at the expense of the impoverished donors. It’s a sad, human story of suffering, broken dreams and greed.

 

Magazines: Over 500,000

 

Fortune Magazine

Peter Elkind, Jennifer Reingold, Doris Burke

Pfizer

An enthralling tale of jealousy, ambition, revenge and betrayal at the top of the world’s largest drug company. Combining impressive reporting and gripping narrative, the Fortune team leads readers through the halls of Pfizer, where they see first-hand how human failings and shoddy management led a giant organization astray.

 

OPINION/COLUMN

 

Magazines: Less than 75,000

 

D CEO

Mitchell Schnurman

Bottom Line Columns

Schnurman’s skewering of Rick Perry is a great example of what smart economic and business journalists can do. It reveals hypocrisy and punctures political rhetoric through a careful examination of the facts. Smart, sophisticated stuff.

 

Magazines:  More than 500,000

 

Bloomberg Businessweek

Peter Coy

Coy is arguably the best economic journalist in the business today. He brings to bear an analytical mind, a potent intellect and a keen knowledge of the field. He also understands the intersection of economics and politics and grasps the limits of ideology. Data drive him, rather than preconceived notions or a rigid worldview. He represents the best of the old BusinessWeek in its new wrapping.

 

SmartMoney Magazine

Dyan Machan

Smart Ideas

Machan’s work is a welcome breath of fresh air. She handles complex topics with a breezy style that could set a standard for business writers. Her piece on ADHD is smart, balanced and intriguing. Her work on the China manufacturing challenge is insightful and based in shoe-leather journalism. Her deft touch includes a sharp sense of humor — breast-pump bras?! She can make peas and carrots taste like crème brulee.

 

 

 

PRINT – WEEKLIES / BIWEEKLIES

BLOG

Indianapolis Business Journal

Anthony Schoettle

The Score

Offers a fresh look at the business of sports, and the well-written entries grab readers. Its originality makes it the kind of blog that people would want to visit with regularity – whether they’re a sports lover or not.

 

Crain’s New York Business

Aaron Elstein

In The Markets

Judges liked Elstein’s clear writing style and distinct voice while explaining complex financial issues. The blog’s tight focus makes this a must-read for people who follow the markets closely.

 

BREAKING NEWS

Crain’s Detroit Business

Daniel Duggan, Chad Halcom, Nancy Kaffer, Bill Shea, Sherri Welch

Light Rail Derails

Comprehensive coverage of the late night news event. Nice inclusion of behind the scenes decisions and implications of the event.

 

Pacific Coast Business Times

Marlize van Romburgh

San Luis Trust Bank Fails

Notable for its on-the-scene reporting.

 

Portland Business Journal

Matthew Kish

Wiederhorn Battles Creditors

 

 

CREATIVE USE ACROSS ALL PLATFORMS

Crain’s Chicago Business

Steve Hendershot, Lisa Leitner, Erik Unger, Danny Ecker, Jason McGregor, Jeff Hartvigsen, Karen Freese

State of Small Business

Crain’s Chicago deserves recognition for turning what is in essence a basic regional business package into compelling content. The use of narrative, interactive elements and company material paints a detailed picture of the state of small firms in the Windy City. Nice use of the web as well.

 

Indianapolis Business Journal

J.K. Wall, Francesca Jarosz, Mason King, Perry Reichandter
Testing Reform Online

Excellent reporting and solid use of cross platform technologies gave this look into local education real journalistic integrity. The time and pacing of stories was also excellent. And we were impressed with how each piece of this package advanced the complex narrative. Thorough reporting on a topic of high public interest, good use of graphics and video online that connected to the themes as a strong package.

 

EXPLANATORY

Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal

Bill King, Eric Fisher, David Bourne, Brandon McClung,

Second Thoughts: Secondary Market Redefines Ticket Business

This story illuminated the dark secret of today’s sports franchises — tickets on the secondary market are selling far below face value. This story really follows the money and explains who benefits and who loses out.

 

Los Angeles Business Journal

Richard Clough

Money Machine

A fascinating explanation of how well-connected buyers of IndyMac Bank are making millions while the FDIC lost billions on the deal. A classic example of how to turn monthly banking reports into blockbuster stories. Exhaustively reported and well written; it’s a complex story told in plain English.

 

Mainebiz

Jackie Farwell, Carol Coultas; Jan Holder, Matt Selva

Absolute control

A look into the alcohol laws in Maine that benefit a private entity, and allow the state to set the price of every bottle sold in Maine. This story cuts deep and explains a complex system to readers who pay for this control on alcohol. This entry has some nice examples, like the local distillery that ships booze to the capital before making what would have been a two-mile trip to the retailer.

 

 

FEATURE

 

Advertising Age

E.J. Schultz

Williston, The Town the Recession Forgot

This piece has it all: Good pacing, a serious and important subject, a creative take, and evocative examples and telling details. Great sidebar that benefits from the first person without being overshadowed by it.

 

Crain’s New York Business

Elizabeth MacBride, Glenn Coleman, Xana Antunes

The Great Escape

Well written and compelling, with a good mix of anecdotes and broadening analysis/stats. It’s a great example of how you can tell a good and meaningful story about a small trend.

 

Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal

Bill King, Tom Stinson,

Power of the Ring

Several great yarns woven together, some real insight into the mechanics of a little-known but fascinating business (from the industry level to the company level), and good art too. If all sports business stories were this good, we’d read a lot more of them.

 

 

GENERAL EXCELLENCE

 

Crain’s Chicago Business

Crain’s Chicago Business Staff

 

Los Angeles Business Journal

Los Angeles Business Journal staff

Good balance of stories, giving comprehensive coverage of a diverse, sprawling community. Emphasizes local coverage without being parochial.

 

Crain’s New York Business

Crain’s New York Business staff

 

 

INVESTIGATIVE

 

Richard Clough

Los Angeles Business Journal

Risky Business

Clough managed to get in front of a federal investigation of alleged wrongdoing at Wilshire State Bank by obtaining documents and interviewing insiders, competitors, analysts and the people brought in to clean up the mess.

 

Crain’s Chicago Business

Steve Daniels, Paul Merrion

Higher Risk Education: State’s prepaid tuition plan

Daniels’s report on shortfalls in Illinois’s pre-paid tuition program and the aggressive investing used to recoup losses led to the ouster of its chief.

 

Portland Business Journal

Matthew Kish

Oregon’s Predatory Lending Industry

Kish uncovered the unintended consequences of Oregon’s anti-usury law. Solid revelations about illegal activity and failed legislation. Timely topic presented in a compelling way. Good balance of data and anecdotes to humanize the issues.

 

 

OPINION/COLUMN

Charlotte Business Journal

Erik Spanberg

Queen City Agenda Column

Spanberg brings a relevant local perspective to his readers, tackling issues by framing them around people in his community. His take on same-sex marriage, for instance, explores a national controversy through the eyes of a gay furniture company executive, and brings the story home. Solid writing and reporting with just the right mix of opinion.

 

Portland Business Journal

Rob Smith

Opinions

Short, straight-for-the-jugular editorials leave little readers little room to disagree. Wells Fargo’s debit fee “a shameless ripoff.” Insurance industry response to a bill seeking transparency is simply “strange” and “curious.” These editorials call it like it is in just a few well-chosen words that sure to resonate with a local audience.

 

 

RADIO / TV

BLOG

CNBC

Patti Domm

Market Insider with Patti Domm

Through her blog, Domm shows her authority on the subject of financial markets. Her blog is very informative, it is multisourced and impressive given the frequency of posting. With the addition of graphics and visuals, Domm’s blog becomes a very useful tool for online readers.

 

BREAKING NEWS

CNBC

Mary Thompson, Melissa Lee, Carl Quintanilla, Jim Cramer, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Sue Herera, John Harwood , Simon Hobbs, Brian Sullivan, Bill Griffeth, Maria Bartiromo, Steve Liesman, Sharon Epperson, Scott Cohn, Nikhil Deogun, Matthew Quayle, Todd Bonin, Chris Sheridan, Robert Fasbender, Sanford Cannold, Han-Ting Wang, Lulu Chiang,

Downgrade Day

A great accounting of a dramatic day, telling the story as it happened and providing a great real-time explanation of events. CNBC played to its strengths, bringing a range of live analysis that over the course of a day presented a mix of views on a major market/economic event. The variety of angles was nice, including the analysis of the gold market. The touches of humor were also welcome.

 

CREATIVE USE ACROSS MULTIPLE PLATFORMS

 

CNBC

Stacy Eisner, Alexandra Privitera, Mary Catherine Wellons, Gina Francolla, Mark Koba, Eamon Javers, Nikhil Deogun

Your Money Your Vote: The Republican Presidential Debate

CNBC pioneered the use of the financial ticker in broadcast television decades ago. And deserves credit for doing interesting ticker work today. The business broadcaster integrated Tweets into its bottom-of-screen graphic feed to create a so-called “Twicker.” Live tweets and comments that ran during a recent Republican debate. This content was further integrated with rich Web and Social media material into a compelling new media package.

 

 

EXPLANATORY

CNBC

Kate Kelly; Jesse Bergman, Nikhil Deogun

Trading on Twitter

In a strong category, Kate Kelly’s piece on Twitter investing was distinguished by original reporting and exceptionally clear writing and presentation. Months later, it continues to be fresh and informative.

 

MarketWatch Radio Network

John Wordock, Andrew O’Day, Larry Kofsky, Adrienne Mitchell, Steve Orr

Wall Street’s Wild Week — S&P Downgrade, the Fed and Historic Stock Swings

Covering the wild days that followed the downgrading of U.S. debt, these series of reports were clear and informative on a complicated issue and always engaging.

 

FEATURE

CNBC

Lester Holt, Mitch Weitzner, Lori Gordon-Logan, Michael Beyman, Patrick Ahearn, Richard Korn, Michael Sheehan, Allison Stedman, Ray Borelli

Pepsi’s Challenge

Very well-done, thoroughly reported and visually compelling entry.

 

REAL ESTATE

 

The Baltimore Sun

Jamie Smith Hopkins, Scott Calvert

Taxing Baltimore

Undeterred by bureaucrats who deemed copying a database too cumbersome, Baltimore Sun reporters did what journalists are supposed to do: They dug. Armed with data scraped from the city’s own website, the reporters analyzed the effects of Maryland’s homestead property tax exemptions, uncovering millions of dollars in lost revenue and prompting a legislative review of a broken system. The project also had strong interactive elements on the Web. In this era of shrinking newsroom budgets, projects like this one give us hope.

 

Denver Post

David Migoya

Public Trustee – Foreclosure Reporting

The total package — compelling storytelling, exhaustive research, a unique and fresh view of an otherwise well-worn topic, and a public service.

 

The Miami Herald

Toluse Olorunnipa

Real Estate Coverage

Olorunnipa offered an in-depth look at issues likely to weigh on local and national real estate markets for years to come. He explained how the “shadow inventory” of millions of unsold and foreclosed homes is slowing the real estate recovery; how “negative equity” is hurting American homeowners; how local developers who used government money to build affordable housing have jacked up rents so much that they are now unaffordable to many; and how mortgage fraud and unscrupulous lawyers forced one Jamaican immigrant to lose her home of 14 years in Miami Gardens.

 

STUDENT

Stories Written for Student Publications

 

Elvina Nawaguna-Clemente, Arizona State University

Deteriorated Properties Prompt Battles Between Struggling Towns, Professor

Cronkite News

An incredible body of reporting in this unique story about a professor who has purchased properties in former Arizona copper mining towns. Readers can appreciate the impact the buildings have had on economic development in the towns as the professor lets them deteriorate. Detailed interactive maps of the properties in Hayden, Superior and Globe-Miami help readers visualize the location of the buildings and towns. Extensive use of public records, interviews with town leadership and other primary documents add to the reporting and the overall package.

 

Honorable Mention

 

Robson Abbott, University of Missouri

Les Bourgeois Becoming Force in Missouri Wine Industry

Columbia Missourian

Good example of a multimedia package that consists of a strong print story and a slideshow of photos that correspond to an interview with the winery owners. Lots of good reporting here, particularly the industry leaders and other winery owners. Readers come away with a good sense of Les Bourgeois Vineyards and how it fits into the larger Missouri industry.

 

Daniel Wiser, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Unsustainable Path

The Daily Tar Heel

A thoughtful and thorough story on an issue of national concern with a local flavor. Solid reporting, a number of good sources, starts out very strong with a personal example. Graphics support story well.

 

Stories Written for Professional Publications

 

Sarah Frier, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jefferson County Agony Means Higher Borrowing Costs for Alabama Taxpayers

Bloomberg News

This student entry showed the sophistication of an experienced and seasoned reporter. She used the Bloomberg database to analyze the data and reach a thesis that the financial plight of Jefferson County, Ala. was a negative drag on the rest of the state. Then she conducted smart interviews and used the quotes sparingly and smartly.

 

Honorable Mention

Tarini Parti, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tobacco Companies Adjusting Strategies to Remain Prominent Political Players

OpenSecrets.com

Good investigative reporting from this student entry showed clearly that Big Tobacco continues to channel funds to politicians through less obvious organizations in hopes of garnering favors. Well reported. Well written.

 

BIB Contest

Society of American Business Editors and Writers

Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication,
Arizona State University

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