2017 Best in Business Honorees with Judges’ Comments

AUDIO – All news organizations

Winner: Marketplace/The Uncertain Hour, for “How One Sentence Helped Set Off the Opioid Crisis”
Krissy Clark, Caitlin Esch, Nancy Farghalli, Maria Hollenhorst, Lyra Smith, Sitara Nieves, Deborah Clark, Donna Tam, Tony Wagner, Jake Gorski and Daniel Ramirez
A fascinating, timely and illuminating look at the origins of one of the nation’s most urgent crises: the opioid epidemic. This series, based on an eight-month investigation, added valuable historical context and background. Clearly focused and impressively produced, this series underscores the importance of taking listeners behind the scenes to follow interactions between a government regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, and a large drug company.

Honorable mention: KUOW, for “Prime(d)”
Carol Smith, Joshua McNichols, Carolyn Adolph, Posey Gruener and Brendan Sweeney
A delightful, deeply thoughtful, fascinating, in-depth and often humorous series focusing on Amazon’s decision to have a national competition among cities over where to build its next headquarters. The authors focused on “what happens when Amazon comes to your town,” how Amazon benefits from inviting cities to compete, Amazon’s impact on Seattle, and other important urban issues. The series flowed naturally and consistently held our attention with fresh and original insights.

 

BANKING/FINANCE – Large

Winner: Financial Times, for articles on non-prime and predatory lending
Ben McLannahan
Excellent reporting, writing and editing on this three-part series about the dangers of nonprime lending and predatory auto lending to U.S. consumers and the U.S. economy. The additional special report on “The Whistleblowers” demonstrated an excellent use of interviews with colorful details and statistics to show what bank and Wall Street whistle-blowers endure after reporting wrongdoing. The scope and quality of this series shines a light on a dangerous and important area of the banking world that we may have stopped thinking about in this post-financial crisis era but can’t afford to anymore.

Honorable mention: Reuters, for “Crypto Casino”
Steve Stecklow, Alexandra Harney, Anna Irrera and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi
This series did an excellent job of both reporting and explaining the risks, realities and mysteries surrounding cryptocurrency. While investors and the general public may have been blinded by the light of the parabolic price movements of tokens like Bitcoin, the lack of regulation and transparency in what is supposed to be an asset class defined by its openness demonstrated how murky the market still is around it and the risks it poses to investors.

 

BANKING/FINANCE – Medium

Winner: ProPublica, co-published with Fortune, for “The Billion-Dollar Loophole”
Peter Elkind
This deeply sourced project between ProPublica and Fortune, reveals in stunning detail how some individuals, including President Donald Trump, were able to turn a U.S. tax code provision intended to help preserve the environment — a tax break for agreeing not to develop property, known as a “conservation easement” — into an outsized tax deduction for the rich. Judges appreciated the story’s granular focus, and how it exposed the ability of wealthy individuals to exploit government inaction. A memorable accomplishment on a complicated subject, clearly written and compellingly told by ProPublica’s Peter Elkind.

 

BANKING/FINANCE – Small

Winner: TheStreet, for “Big Bank Corporate Governance”
Brad Keoun
The judges felt this series offers a thoughtful look at under-reported corporate governance and board issues at banks. By uncovering sweetheart contracts for a Wells Fargo director, a revolving door opening to Citigroup’s board, and secrecy in fixed income reporting at Goldman Sachs, Keoun showed how the largest banks are avoiding transparency.

Honorable mention: American Banker, for The CFPB leadership battle”
Kate Berry, Ian McKendry and Rob Blackwell
This story about a coup at a government agency was a nice scoop for a small publication competing for an inside look against larger entities. It also offered insight about a regulatory body that’s key for many in the business world, particularly in the small-business community.

 

BREAKING NEWS – Large

Winner: The Wall Street Journal, for “CVS-Aetna Deal”
Dana Mattioli, Sharon Terlep, Anna Wilde Mathews and Laura Stevens
The package on the CVS-Aetna deal was a true scoop that put the WSJ ahead of the pack on an industry-transforming deal. In addition to the transaction basics, the package included analysis pieces on the industry impact as well as how Amazon’s entry into pharma services helped spur the CVS-Aetna deal. The latter piece, like the main news story, was based on deep inside sources. The Journal’s presentation included graphics illustrating how the new merged company would stack up against competitors.

Honorable mention: The New York Times, for Uber coverage
Mike Isaac and Farhad Manjoo
An excellent package on an unfolding drama: A main story that delivers the news and its impact, an insider tick-tock of how CEO Kalanick was forced out by investors, and wide-view analysis of how Uber’s issues were symptomatic of wider and more fundamental Silicon Valley problems. The package showed deep reporting and access to inside sources that included former employees and investors.

 

BREAKING NEWS – Medium

Winner: The Seattle Times, for “Amazon HQ2 announcement”
Matt Day, Dominic Gates, Mike Rosenberg, Jon Talton, Scott Greenstone, Dan Beekman, Jessica Lee, Joseph O’Sullivan, Mark Nowlin and Kjell Redal
The coverage of Amazon’s announcement of a second headquarters distinguished itself with a mix of illuminating reporting, insightful analysis and compelling graphics. The package deftly assessed the Amazon stunner from the local perspective of economic development and politics while also conveying the broader implications — beyond Seattle and beyond Amazon. It set the standard for all the HQ2 stories published in its wake.

 

BREAKING NEWS – Small

Winner: International Business Times, for “Last-Minute Tax Provisions Could Enrich Top Lawmakers”
David Sirota, Josh Keefe, Alex Kotch and Jay Cassano
It is not surprising that Washington politicians slip provisions into bills that benefit themselves or particular industries. But usually such goodies are discovered after a bill has passed. The International Business Times scooped others with its story that Republicans had slipped into the conference report of their tax bill a provision that would benefit real estate moguls such as Donald Trump and Senator Bob Corker and that the provision was more generous than either the House or Senate version. Their story landed in real time before the bill received final approval. Corker professed ignorance in an interview with International Business Times and admitted that he hadn’t read the bill before he changed his vote from no to yes. This is exactly what business journalists should be doing holding politicians accountable.

Honorable mention: Puget Sound Business Journal, for “Port of Seattle CEO resigned amid probe into $4.7M payout”
Andrew McIntosh
The Puget Sound Business Journal provided a public service by exposing the unconstitutional payments to workers approved by the local Port Commission, the largest of which went to the CEO himself. Through dogged reporting and public record requests, Puget Sound Business Journal not only revealed the payments but its reporting led to the money being returned to taxpayers. Puget Sound Business Journal even managed to get a draft of the CEO’s performance appraisal through records requests that documented serious problems. The Puget Sound Business Journal resisted the urge to couch its series of breaking stories as gotcha journalism and was careful to present the improvements that the CEO had made.

Honorable mention: Crain’s Detroit Business, for “Amazon HQ2 bid revealed: tax breaks, $120 million talent program, transit vision”
Chad Livengood and Kirk Pinho
When Amazon announced it intended to build a second headquarters, cities all over the country salivated at the prospect for a boost in employment and infrastructure improvements. But the secrecy surrounding Amazon’s selection process combined with the reluctance of urban centers to disclose their negotiations made it impossible to determine what city Amazon would choose or how cities were wooing the e-commerce giant. Partly through the FOIA, Crain’s Detroit Business got hold of Quicken Loans’ founder Dan Gilbert’s proposal to Amazon to locate in Detroit, which included a massive amount of goodies including tax breaks and a $120 million talent program. The story was picked up throughout the US and Canada, crediting Crain’s with the scoop.

 

COMMENTARY/OPINION – Large

Winner: The Wall Street Journal, for Keywords Technology Column
Christopher Mims
These columns provide a micro and macro take on the tech industry. One column looked at the positive impact of diversity on business and process outcomes. The “worm” has been turning recently about the (mostly) unintended impacts of technology, including the male-dominated culture in tech. This column broadened the argument in many ways, including impacts on shareholders. Although it falls outside the usual commentary realm, we liked the visual aspects included along with the good writing. A new thread on the downside of Facebook was interesting, using an extension of the old TV news maxim, “if it bleeds, it leads” pertaining to social.

Honorable mention: The New York Times, for “Equifax Hack”
Ron Lieber
An excellent work in reporting the implications of the Equifax hack, with commentary and consumer insights on what can be done to mitigate damage. It also includes what should be done in the future to make companies like Equifax more responsive to consumers.

 

COMMENTARY/OPINION – Medium

Winner: Minneapolis Star Tribune, for Lee Schafer’s columns
The columnist blends smart business insight and an enjoyable writing style into incisive commentary on some of the nation’s most important companies that call Minneapolis their home — or in Wells Fargo’s case, second home. His piece “Wells Fargo CEO didn’t take ‘run it like you own it’ mantra to heart” gets to the core of the beleaguered bank’s cultural problems that allowed employees to open more than 3 million fake accounts to help hit sales targets. In “Deciding what to do with Yoplait,” he outlines why General Mills should sell its souring yogurt business. And his article “CVS-Aetna deal is about catching up to UnitedHealth” he makes a compelling case for why one of 2017’s biggest announced mergers is no threat to the locally based giant.

Honorable mention: Fortune, for “A Boom with a View”
Erin Griffith
An excellently crafted piece commenting on the rise in scandals hitting startups from Theranos to Hampton Creek.

Honorable mention: The Dallas Morning News, for “Texas business repels a bathroom bill”
Mitchell Schnurman
The columnist deserves praise for his series of articles putting forth the case for why business leaders ought to speak up against a state bill that would restrict bathroom use by transgender people. After corporate executives started arguing against it, the bill failed.

 

COMMENTARY/OPINION – Small

Winner: Albany Business Review, for Mike Hendricks’ columns
Hendricks’ elegantly written columns demonstrate a deep knowledge of local business and a strong desire to serve his community. He focuses on issues of interest to his readership that are unlikely to be covered elsewhere, and he offers solutions. That said, he doesn’t shy away from broader topics, and uses personal experience to great effect in his piece on health care.

Honorable mention: The Nation, for Helaine Olen’s columns
Olen’s strongly opinionated columns demonstrate an excellent grasp of complex topics. She marshals ample evidence, connecting disparate and fast-moving events into a coherent picture, which her engaging prose makes accessible to a broad readership.

 

ECONOMICS – Large

Winner: Los Angeles Times, for “Immigrant Farm Labor”
Geoffrey Mohan, Natalie Kitroeff and Ben Welsh
The judges unanimously selected this story on immigrant farm labor in a category with significant competition. The LA Times narrative stood out because the reporters were truly in the field for this piece, sharing details of the immigrant experience, from wages to housing. It was thoughtful and extraordinarily descriptive in reporting on a topic widely talked about, but perhaps less understood. We all felt this piece was a good read that made us smarter. Beyond the immigrants at the center of the piece, it captured the broader context of the communities where they work, and the labor market dynamics that supply their jobs.

 

ECONOMICS – Medium

Winner: POLITICO, for “Trump’s Trade Pullout Roils Rural America”
Adam Behsudi
POLITICO’s standout piece relied on vivid writing, exhaustive reporting and cogent analysis to show readers how the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership amounts to a hit on American farmers. The article analyzed trade negotiations between the remaining TPP nations, finding that the United States’ rivals are furiously negotiating with each other to lower tariffs and undercut American farmers. But it went far beyond policy analysis, delving deeply into the lives of people in Eagle Grove, Iowa. The owner of one pork and poultry business making a vast investment there said he is “scared to death,” and others fear the economic ripple effects. The piece laid out clearly and persuasively why rural communities have good cause for concern.

 

ECONOMICS – Small

Winner: Sarasota Herald-Tribune, for “Sarasota Drift”
Barbara Peters-Smith
A wonderful job of weaving together demographic and income data to tell the story of a widening divide between have and have-nots in a community often associated with retirement. It used data effectively to argue its point, and spotlighted creative approaches to address the problem.

 

ENERGY/NATURAL RESOURCES – Large

Winner: Los Angeles Times, for “California’s Power Glut “
Ivan Penn, Ryan Menezes and Ben Welsh
California utility customers likely had no idea what hit them until the LA Times invested the resources to examine the perverse incentives offered by state regulators. If companies get paid to build power plants, whether needed or not, they’ll build them and send the bills to ratepayers. Deep reporting and excellent writing made this package extremely accessible given the jargon-heavy topic. Charts and interactive graphics spelled it out even more simply. The reporting has actually had an impact, given that authorities are reacting.

 

ENERGY/NATURAL RESOURCES – Medium

Winner: The Atlantic, for “The Problem with Rolling Back Regulations”
Alana Semuels
This impeccably researched and well-written story uses North Carolina’s rollback of environmental regulations to show what could happen if national and global policies move toward less regulation. Framing such moves as “business-friendly” can stymie debate, but it ultimately hurts homeowners and residents. It makes a compelling case that citizens should be worried about changing climate policies in the Trump administration.

Honorable mention: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for “Oil and Water”
Dan Egan
While much has been written about the Dakota Access Pipeline, another and potentially bigger risk to the environment threatens the drinking water of 40 million people. A growing stream of oil is pumping through aging pipes along and under the Great Lakes. The pipeline company, Enbridge Inc., is seeking to expand through eminent domain. Through clear and sophisticated writing, reporter Egan helps readers understand the possible consequences of allowing Enbridge to move forward.

 

ENERGY/NATURAL RESOURCES – Small

Winner: Debtwire, for American Idle: An Offshore Drilling Crisis “
Alex Plough
Debtwire drilled in on a topic few people think about — who is on the hook for cleaning up abandoned offshore oil platforms — and managed to hook readers with colorful description while making the case for how and why the issue is a considerable environmental and economic problem. By collaborating with a university research tank to sort through available data, the reporter was able to provide specific examples that spelled out risks to companies and taxpayers. The story provides history and context. It supplements text with excellent graphics to help readers grasp the significance of a previously obscure topic. In short, the combination of clear writing, lavish details and demonstrable impact made this story stand out.

 

EXPLANATORY – Large

Winner: Reuters, for “Shock Tactics”
Jason Szep, Peter Eisler, Tim Reid, Lisa Girion, Grant Smith, Linda So, M.B. Pell and Charles Levinson
Reuters’ comprehensive, multi-part investigation of Taser raised real concerns about the company’s devices. In addition to routinely injuring and even killing people, Reuters showed through document reviews, interviews and number- and data-crunching the cost to police departments and city governments of using the electroshock devices.

Honorable mention: Los Angeles Times, for “Anaheim’s Subsidy Kingdom “
Daniel Miller, Priya Krishnakumar and Ben Poston
This rigorously-reported LA Times series shows how Disney spent millions contributing to the PACs behind pro-Disney city council candidates in Anaheim and received $1 billion of incentives in turn. The series uses interviews, data, and an interactive graphic to expose Disney’s complex system of donations, revealing the company’s political influence in Anaheim.

Honorable mention: The New York Times, for “Education Disrupted”
Natasha Singer
This three-part series revealed provocative ways tech companies and executives are gaining influence in America’s public schools, creating potential conflicts of interest but not necessarily better results for children or teachers. The package’s strong reporting about the enticing lures to teachers and administrators in cash-strapped school systems raises serious questions about who’s really running the nation’s classrooms.

 

EXPLANATORY – Medium

Winner: ProPublica, co-published with NPR, for “Sold for Parts”
Michael Grabell and Howard Berkes
As the nation debates White House efforts to overhaul immigration, ProPublica’s Michael Grabell gave his readers an up-close look at horrific working conditions in Ohio, Florida and South Carolina. Companies that have a history of failing to comply with federal workplace safety standards are hiring immigrants to work long hours in the most dangerous jobs; when workers fight for better pay and working conditions, the companies repeatedly use their immigration status against them to quash dissent and avoid paying medical bills. This is an outstanding grouping of stories that are deeply reported and well-written stories.

Honorable mention: Miami Herald, for “Hotel housekeepers commute”
Chabeli Herrera and Carl Juste
This is textbook explanatory reporting. Chabeli Herrera explores income inequality and sky-high housing costs through the commute of a Fontainebleau housekeeper. The smooth, graceful writing benefits from its relative brevity. Graphics and a compelling video enhance the story.

Honorable mention: Detroit Free Press, “The Fault in No Fault”
JC Reindl
A deeply researched series explaining how various bad actors exploited Michigan’s no-fault insurance statute in a way that enriches them but results in sky-high rates for Detroit drivers. Metro reporting at its best.

Honorable mention: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for “Oil and Water”
Dan Egan
Egan is known for his authoritative reporting on the Great Lakes. Here he gives his readers another excellent series, documenting how the nation’s most important source of fresh water could be jeopardized by an aging underground pipeline and a backroom legislative deal. Egan’s work is deeply reported and masterfully presented.

 

EXPLANTORY – Small

Winner: McClatchy’s Washington Bureau, “Trump’s footprint across ex-Soviet world”
David Goldstein, Ben Wieder, Kevin G. Hall, Gabriellle Paluch and Peter Stone
On one of the most-swarmed stories in years, the McClatchy team unearthed evidence of Trump’s Russia ties that no one else did — including a birthday phone call to an ex-Soviet official that was pried from a sealed British lawsuit. Given the often-bewildering maze of business relationships and foreign associates, it’s amazing that these stories were very readable narratives. An example of painstaking reporting, careful writing and patient editing.

Honorable mention: The Center for Public Integrity, for A Century of Domination: As America’s Carbon Wars Rage, Oil and Gas Industry Influence Grows”
Jie Jenny Zou, Michael J. Mishak, Jamie Smith Hopkins, Kristen Lombardi, Jim Morris, Chris Young, Sasha Khokha and Tom Dart
This entry offers an impressive historical sweep as it examines fresh evidence of the pervasive influence of the fossil-fuel industry. One story exposes the industry’s practice of leading free seminars for state and federal judges. The seminars, hosted by an industry-backed risk analyst, are an obvious effort to make courts more skeptical of the scientific evidence underpinning regulations.

Honorable mention: InsideClimate News, for “Choke Hold: The Fossil Fuel Industry’s Fight Against Climate Policy, Science and Clean Energy”
Neela Banerjee, Robert McClure, Clark Hoyt, David Hasemyer, Marianne Lavelle, Robert McClure and Brad Wieners
Authoritative reporting and clear writing bring fresh insights to the well-worn topic of how vigorously the fossil fuel industry fights environmentalists. One story broke news on how the scientists whose study was used by George W. Bush’s EPA to excuse the fracking industry from clean-water standards now disavow those conclusions.

 

FEATURE – Large

Winner: Los Angeles Times, for “Immigrant Farm Labor”
Geoffrey Mohan, Natalie Kitroeff and Ben Welsh
Through data analysis and extensive on-the-ground reporting, this series illuminates one of the most timely and controversial issues of the day (and rebuts the poorly-informed positions of many of our national leaders). An important story told with exceptionally compelling writing.

Honorable mention: Los Angeles Times, for “Pink Boxes”
David Pierson
The best doughnuts are airy but packed with flavor. They can really make your day a little better. The same things could be said about the best feature stories. This history of the ubiquitous pink doughnut box is the epitome of the business feature. While explaining one of the curiosities of everyday life, it delights us with insights into entrepreneurship, economics, immigrant culture, and consumer psychology.

 

FEATURE – Medium

Winner: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for “The Land Alcoa Dammed”
Rich Lord, Len Boselovic, Stephanie Strasburg, Zack Tanner, James Hilston and Ed Yozwick
The judges were impressed with this multimedia package that explored a giant conglomerate’s impact on a small South American nation. The reporters went to great lengths to explore every angle, from Alcoa’s hometown in Pennsylvania to the deals that were made and the ones that are in still in the works in Suriname as Alcoa withdraws its once-formidable presence. The question of what happens to a company town when the company leaves is an important one; this story explores the aftermath from when an entire country is overly dependent on one business. The story was accompanied by beautiful photographs, and a well-presented online package.

Honorable mention: Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, for Trapped by Heroin”
Penelope Overton, Dieter Bradbury, Gregory Rec and Brian Robitaille
For this ambitious project, the reporter entered the closed realm of Maine lobstermen and persuaded these insular workers to open up about a scourge claiming the lives of friends and family members. The lobster industry, it turns out, is particularly susceptible to opioid addiction. The reporter explained the reasons why, interspersing memorable vignettes about down-on-their-luck survivors as well as the unfortunate ones who didn’t make it.

Honorable mention: The Weather Channel Digital, for “United States of Climate Change”
Matt Hongoltz-Hetling, Michael G. Seamans, Kevin Hayes and Geoff Hansen
This series represents strong coverage of a business, political and cultural topic of great interest to all of us. With solid interviews, excellent pictures and clear prose, the series showed great range. While focusing on issues that are particular to each state, such as energy advocates in Vermont or riverfront casinos in Missouri, the series informs its audience of climate change’s high economic stakes.

 

FEATURE – Small

Winner: The Real Deal, for “Real Estate’s Diversity Problem”
Kathryn Brenzel, Rich Bockmann, Elizabeth Kim, Jill Noonan, Damian Ghigliotty and Yoryi De La Rosa
The Real Deal’s reporting on the lack of diversity in New York City’s commercial real-estate industry was a comprehensive and compelling narrative. Combining statistics from multiple credible sources with dozens of interviews, the reporting demonstrated with clarity how “entrenched discriminatory practices surrounding access to credit, commission-based pay and a clubby, male-dominated culture have raised the barrier to entry.” The article provided data, testimonies and anecdotes necessary for readers to fully comprehend, as one of its experts noted, that “the people involved in building NYC’s skyline bear little resemblance to its 8.5 million inhabitants.”

Honorable mention: Crain’s Chicago Business, for Can jobs stop Chicago violence?”
Lisa Bertagnoli and Ann Dwyer
The story on jobs vs. bullets impressed the judges with its compelling interviews, deep reporting and excellent graphics. Judges praised the authors’ strong use of anecdotes from key interviewees, which drove home the impact and importance of the topic. The interactive map and charts stood out as unique elements to tell the story.

Honorable mention: Inc. Magazine, for “Meet the Woman Who Broke Silicon Valley’s Gender Barrier and Built a $1.5 Billion Tech Company “
Maria Aspan and Danielle Sacks
This profile of Blackline founder Theresa Tucker is a sparkling read from the moment the reader meets her in an elevator, where her black hoodie practically guarantees the investment bankers will totally ignore her. This story is an unvarnished look at an effective, no-B.S. technologist who built and took public what is now a $1.5 billion company. Maria Aspan and Danielle Sacks cracked the code for writing about women executives in an era of #MeToo. The story strikes the right chord between recognizing a true pioneer in bringing gender equality to the Silicon Valley and providing a balanced picture of a 56-year-old technology company CEO who has succeeded against long odds.

 

GENERAL EXCELLENCE – Industry/topic-specific publications

Winner: The Real Deal
The Real Deal was full of news and we really liked some of the how-things-really-work type reporting. It set a high standard for what is expected.

 

GENERAL EXCELLENCE – Large

Winner: The New York Times
This entry included five major reports, all of which illuminated, and some of which triggered, major business or economic developments of 2017. Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey exposed sexual harassment across three decades by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein aimed at women over whom he could wield serious career power. Weinstein apologized (while denying some allegations), promised to do better, but was soon ousted from the company bearing his name. Emily Steel and Michael S. Schmidt revealed settlements totaling $13 million with women who accused Bill O’Reilly of Fox News of sexual harassment or abusive behavior. O’Reilly denied wrongdoing but departed Fox News within weeks after the story appeared. These stories played a leading role in spurring a wave of coverage of misbehavior by prominent men in multiple industries and significantly transformed the power dynamic in the executive suite. The other stories in this entry: exposure of ride-sharing giant Uber’s use of “Greyballing” and other technological tools to frustrate efforts by government investigators to check up on whether some of its competitive behaviors complied with the law; insight into how the collapse of much of the Wisconsin paper industry helped swing formerly Democratic voters and ultimately the state to Donald Trump; and graphical portrayal of the massive Republican tax cut’s benefits and pain. For its breadth, depth, and impact, the Times’ work was extraordinary.

 

GENERAL EXCELLENCE – Medium

Winner: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
An outstanding range of work across news, investigations and explanatory journalism. This was a unanimous winner from a deep field with many competitive candidates. All of the pieces in the entry were strong, and presentation took advantage of smart multimedia as well as print. The investigation about rapes in Mexico was particularly compelling. The coverage served Milwaukee’s audience well with national-level reporting on pertinent local issues, such as the risks of oil transport both through aging pipelines and potential new ones.

Honorable mention: Houston Chronicle
Impressive work under highly competitive conditions on the flood stories, including an insightful and original piece about floating-roof oil tanks. The entry also showed breadth outside of that major story, with excellent examples of explanatory journalism as well as high-quality visuals and graphics.

 

GENERAL EXCELLENCE – Small

Winner: STAT: Reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine
STAT impressed us with the breadth and quality of coverage, a powerful marriage of deep reporting with lively, engaging writing. In a skeptical look at IBM’s claims that its Watson supercomputer would revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, along with a well-timed piece documenting years of sexual harassment at a powerful biotech hedge fund, STAT displayed strong investigative chops and skilled narrative storytelling. Its breaking news entry, written after another in a long line of highly-anticipated Alzheimers drugs came up short in late-stage testing, went well beyond the basics, succinctly putting the development into the wider context so valuable to readers.

Honorable mention: Crain’s Detroit Business
In a category filled with city business publications, Crain’s Detroit stood out with the strength and depth of reporting on a range of issues affecting the region. It revealed in rich detail the big push made by city officials and a local billionaire to lure Amazon to Detroit for the online retailer’s second headquarters, and also the surprising ways in which factories end up contributing to their own workers’ opioid abuse. A piece probing why Michigan has the highest auto-insurance rates in the country tackled a pressing local problem, while another, looking at the economic roots behind the decline of a once prosperous African-American neighborhood, connected readers to their city’s history in a fresh and interesting way.

 

GOVERNMENT – Large

Winner: The Wall Street Journal, for “One Nation, Divisible”
Michael M. Phillips, Betsy McKay, Paul Overberg and Sarah Nassauer
An absolutely fabulous series of strong, powerful storytelling. The series used great reporting through data analysis and exact sourcing to give voice to an economy that is often invisible and thereby neglected by the country and the media. The writing was outstanding and delivered a compelling narrative that was hard to stop reading.

 

GOVERNMENT – Medium

Winner: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for “Burned”
Raquel Rutledge, Rick Barrett and John Diedrich
This is genuine investigative journalism at its best. Next time someone tells you we don’t need local reporters, point to this series. It exposed the public hazard of barrel refurbishment plans and made a difference.

Honorable mention: Kansas City Star, for “Business and politics collide in Missouri”
Lindsay Wise and Steve Vockrodt
This is quite good — exposing the hypocrisy of a popular politician with a national profile.

 

GOVERNMENT – Small

Winner: InsideClimate News, for “Industry Lawsuits Try to Paint Environmental Activism as Illegal Racket”
Nicholas Kusnetz
The compelling narrative, starting with questionable characters arriving unannounced in a person’s driveway for reasons unknown, distinguished this entry from the pack. The story neatly wove a novel legal strategy in with the larger fight being waged against climate groups in a way that set the table for the wars to come in this arena.

Honorable mention: Financial Planning, for “Wells Fargo whistleblowers”
Ann Marsh, Marc Hochstein and Scott Wenger
Judges were impressed by the depth of reporting, including the use of documents, and an on-record interview with a former OSHA employee alleging multiple violations that deprived whistleblowers of a chance at justice.

 

HEALTH/SCIENCE – Large

Winner: Reuters, for “The Body Trade”
Brian Grow, John Shiffman, Blake Morrison, Elizabeth Culliford, Reade Levinson, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Zach Goelman
The Reuters entry shook us on a primitive level as readers. As judges, we found the meticulousness and depth of reporting, the detail in the anecdotes and the sheer number of documents involved impressive. A seamless presentation through words, graphics and images gripped each of us to make this stunning series the clear winner.

 

HEALTH/SCIENCE – Medium

Winner: ProPublica, for “Wasted Medicine”
Marshall Allen
An expert examination of an outrageous failure of the health care system, in three powerfully interlocking deep dives that looked at waste built into the industry.

Honorable mention: The Center for Public Integrity and Reveal, for “The Invisible Hazard Afflicting Thousands of Schools”
Jamie Smith Hopkins, Chris Zubak-Skees, Eric Sagara, Fernanda Camarena, Amy Walters and Ike Sriskandarajah
Before school shootings came back to haunt the news in February, this dogged piece of enterprise, studded with disturbing historic and sociological context and powerful graphics, laid bare a shocking dereliction of duty to our kids — an insidious problem that harms many more children than even these grotesque massacres. Now we have two huge problems to solve.

 

HEALTH/SCIENCE – Small

Winner: InsideClimate News, for “Choke Hold: The Fossil Fuel Industry’s Fight Against Climate Policy, Science and Clean Energy “
Neela Banerjee, Robert McClure, Clark Hoyt, David Hasemyer, Marianne Lavelle and Brad Wieners
This team reports how the U.S. government whittled away protections for average Americans to interests of large fossil-fuel corporations. It includes reporting on how a scientific report was tweaked to justify a provision of the Energy Policy Act that bars the Environmental Protection Agency from safeguarding drinking water that may be contaminated by fracking, and how coal mining depleted aquifers. It also reports on how people responsible for the climate misinformation machine now have a seat at the table of President Donald Trump.

Honorable mention: Kaiser Health News, for Treating Cancer: Hope Vs. Hype”
Liz Szabo and John Hillkirk
These eye-opening stories show how some cancer patients, even those with good insurance, are stalling the start of medication because of high co-pays. Those in financial distress die at higher rates. Doctors are not communicating with patients about how long they have to live, causing some to choose aggressive therapy that can cause pointless suffering. The stories are compelling and well-sourced and -written.

Honorable mention: The Center for Public Integrity, for “Nuclear Negligence “
Patrick Malone, Peter Cary, R. Jeffrey Smith and Chris Zubak-Skees
This report illuminates rarely-reported safety weaknesses at corporate contractor run U.S. nuclear weapons sites. The reporting is diligent and employs all tools, including FOIAs, to show that the Los Alamos contractor’s inattention to safety crimped critical aspects of nuclear weapons-related work. Penalties imposed by the government were small compared to the vast amounts they get in contracts.

 

INNOVATION – Large

Winner: Los Angeles Times, for “Disneyland Wait Times”
Hugo Martin, Joe Fox, Priya Krishnakumar, John Schleuss and Ben Poston
“Disneyland Wait Times” did an excellent job matching data analysis and innovative interactivity with a very practical audience need — giving us the secrets to not standing in lines at the Magic Kingdom. It is a sleek integration of reporting, data and reader tips, which both helps the audience and encourages them to use the interactive tools. We loved the animated gif too!

 

INNOVATION – Medium

Winner: GateHouse Media, for “In the Shadow of Wind Farms”
Emily Le Coz, Lucille Sherman, Mara Corbett and Tyson Bird
This strong piece of investigative journalism told the story visually and audibly – letting readers see the impact of wind farms and listen to what it may sound like to be near one. This was a new experience for all of us. It was also easy to interpret the data in the story and consume it.

 

INNOVATION – Small

Winner: Crain’s Chicago Business, for “The Rebuilders of Chicago’s Southland”
Jason McGregor, Thomas J. Linder and Ann Dwyer
We applaud this piece for its use of digital design, aerial video and historical research to depict positive economic change in what for decades was one of the city’s most economically stagnant and negatively portrayed neighborhoods. Maps show the entrance of new businesses, with interspersed text narrative and before/after photos, along with a video portion. The series covers a lot of ground in explaining this rehabilitative metamorphosis to a business readership that no doubt had long written off the area.

 

INTERNATIONAL REPORTING – Large

Winner: Associated Press, for “North Korea”
Eric Talmadge, Tim Sullivan, Hyung-jin Kim and Martha Mendoza
Timely stories that elegantly contrast the competing ambitions of a country that seeks to sequester its citizens even as it opens limited access to the internet and encourages more consumerism. These pieces go beyond investigative business journalism, offering readers absorbing insights into North Korea’s social structure.

Honorable mention: Los Angeles Times, for Mexico’s Housing Crisis
Richard Marosi
An ambitious 360-degree view of the widespread failure of Mexico’s plan to provide housing for 20 million people. The reporter found original voices to tell the story of Mexico’s housing economy, government corruption and corporate greed. His illustrations of the personal cost to aggrieved homebuyers can’t help but shake the reader.

 

INTERNATIONAL REPORTING – Small and Medium

Winner: Fortune, for “Welcome to Tomorrow Land”
Vivienne Walt
This story was full of surprises. We loved the contrasts between showing how far Estonia has come from Soviet-era backwater with magnificent medieval architecture to rocketing straight into the future with specific, solid examples. Well-written with every sentence used economically to tell us relevant and interesting information. We loved the “startups on the rise” box, with just a sampling of what’s going on. There are some gems: The PM filing his taxes on his iPad from an airport. Genius! We also liked the pullout with SHORT examples of the Estonian government being ahead of the curve. It then throws the story right into the future — it’s not just about what the country has done, it’s about where it’s going.

 

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING – Large

Winner: The New York Times, for “Culture of Harassment “
Emily Steel, Michael S. Schmidt, Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey, Susan Chira and Catrin Einhorn
This collection of New York Times’ articles about sexual harassment, including the October story on Harvey Weinstein, helped to spur a national reckoning on the issue and upended the notion that if you’re powerful, you will not be held to account. All three stories submitted involved rigorous reporting and uncovered incidents and settlements that were previously undisclosed. Although many victims were unwilling, the newspaper managed to get a number of women to tell their stories.

Honorable mention: Los Angeles Times, for “California’s Power Glut”
Ivan Penn, Ryan Menezes and Ben Welsh
This story asked why electric rates were 50 percent higher in California than the national average and why regulators continued to approve new plants. The answer, naturally, is complex, but the LA Times did a masterful job of explaining the reasons and what could or should be done about them. The writing, data, photos and engaging graphics worked together to create an easy-to-follow package relevant to consumers, government and corporations. In a field of outstanding entries, this was a smart piece that did an exceptional job of telling a multilayered story while keeping it interesting.

 

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING – Medium

Winner: ProPublica, for “Too Broke for Bankruptcy”
Paul Kiel and Hannah Fresques
Beautiful combination of strong shoe-leather and data reporting on a fresh and important topic – why some poor people don’t file for bankruptcy protection because they can’t afford a lawyer. Excellent analysis, clearly presented.

Honorable mention: The Seattle Times, for “Quantity of Care”
Mike Baker and Justin Mayo
Compelling, deeply researched and beautifully written and illustrated stories about the dire consequences of emphasizing money over once-selfless medical practices. The project got immediate results, including investigations by the state Department of Health and U.S. Department of Justice, and the resignation of the hospital’s CEO and top neurosurgeon.

Honorable mention: The Boston Globe, for “FAA”
Jaimi Dowdell, Kelly Carr, Jenn Abelson, Todd Wallack, Jonathan Saltzman and Scott Allen
Amazing and frightening story on lax oversight on plane registration at the Federal Aviation Administration that has received little, if any, media attention. A very strong entry.

Honorable mention: The Des Moines Register, for “TPI Investigation”
Kevin Hardy and Grant Rodgers
The Des Moines Register revealed how wind-blade maker TPI failed to protect its workers from toxic chemicals that damaged their skin. Some workers were fired when they reported skin damage and were denied workers compensation benefits by the company. Excellent use of Iowa OSHA documents, unemployment appeals hearing testimony, photos and on-the-record and anonymous interviews with former workers.

 

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING – Small

Winner: Boston Business Journal, for “Promises, promises: Massachusetts companies are missing hiring goals even with hefty tax breaks”
Greg Ryan
The investigation reveals Massachusetts has awarded over $25 million in job-creation tax credits to businesses that have since fallen short of their hiring promises — more than one third of the companies were granted the tax credits. The story is well-researched and presented fairly.

Honorable mention: InsideClimate News, for “As Hilcorp Plans to Drill in Arctic Waters, a Troubling Trail of Violations Surfaces”
Sabrina Shankman
InsideClimate News examined the long history of regulatory violations by an energy company planning a major drilling program in the Arctic.

Honorable mention: Orlando Business Journal, for “The Amazon Effect”
Sarah Aslam, Veronica Brezina, Matthew Richardson and Craig Douglas
A fresh look at the impact of huge web-based Amazon using a mix of commercial real estate transaction information, national data from partner business publications and local title and tax records.

 

MARKETS – Large

Winner: The Wall Street Journal, for “Market-Moving Leaks”
Mike Bird
Within three months of the Journal’s initial story about potential abuse of the prerelease of UK government economic data, the practice was halted. The newspaper wasn’t the first to notice suspicious trading – there were rumors as early as 2009 – but it highlighted the issue with a statistical analysis and a clear explanation of risks posed by leaked data. Interactive charts clearly showed how widespread advance notice of economic data allowed those in the know to trade on the information.

 

MARKETS – Small and Medium

Winner: Fortune, for “Whatever It Takes to Win”
Jen Wieczner
A polished, extensively reported story on a subject of significant interest to investors and company executives, as well as a broader readership: activist hedge funds, in this instance Elliott Management. The reporter’s persistence and in-depth reporting forced the reluctant subjects into lifting the curtain on the inner workings of one of Wall Street’s most aggressive operators. The story had all the right elements and was accompanied by interesting graphics. A very enjoyable read.

 

MEDIA/ENTERAINMENT – Large

Winner: Los Angeles Times, for “Ratner-Simmons Sex Allegations “
Daniel Miller, Amy Kaufman and Victoria Kim
An unflinching account of sexual misconduct allegations that spanned decades and are now part of a broader cultural reckoning over society’s treatment of women. The reporters skillfully walk the tightrope of ‘he said-she said,’ forcing readers to confront the inherent power imbalance between the abusers and their victims. In the Ratner stories, the reporters dispassionately lay out the accusations juxtaposed with the director’s repeated denials. Patterns begin to emerge: Ratner, through his lawyer, claiming not to recall an incident; Ratner switching seats on an airplane to sit next to a strange woman and then showing nude photos of his girlfriend. The final piece exposes the hypocrisy of Simmons’ lifestyle brand alongside decades of alleged abuse. The reporting is methodical and the writing compelling. The anger and frustration of the many direct, named sources is palpable. In most cases, the reporters verified accounts with multiple sources. The series does not shy away from the uncomfortable reality that in many cases, the victims maintained their relationships with Ratner and Simmons and in some cases sought professional gain from them.

 

MEDIA/ENTERAINMENT – Medium

Winner: CNNMoney, for Five women accuse journalist and ‘Game Change’ co-author Mark Halperin of sexual harassment “
Oliver Darcy
CNNMoney broke news of Halperin’s alleged sexual misconduct while at ABC and followed the news as its impact grew and Halperin responded. Darcy’s stories were clear, well-written and exceptionally well-reported, giving them credibility and impact.

 

MEDIA/ENTERAINMENT – Small

Winner: Portland Business Journal, for “Portland’s media mania”
Erik Siemers
The three stories in this entry brought together detail, character and perspective to capture the subject matter from all angles. Each report delivered not only key facts and figures, but also compelling anecdotes of the people affected by them. A report on the comic-book industry was a highlight because of its creative presentation, worthy of the topic.

Honorable mention: Investor’s Business Daily, forCan E-sports’ Armchair Gladiators Vanquish Hulking NFL Players?”
Patrick Seitz
A comprehensive account of an industry that’s developed enough to merit in-depth reporting, but fresh enough to be news to most readers. There’s plenty of well-organized detail about the players — in other words, the companies — in the world of E-sports.

 

PERSONAL FINANCE – Large

Winner: The New York Times, for “Student Debt”
Stacy Cowley, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Natalie Kitroeff
The reporting on this important topic was thorough, the writing powerful and the personal stories were compelling. The series put a spotlight on the predatory practices of companies holding student debt, and the fact that the investor in one of those firms actually condemned his own company’s procedures was a testament to the rock-solid reporting.

 

PERSONAL FINANCE – Medium

Winner: The Chronicle of Higher Education, forWelcome Students! Need a Checking Account?”
Dan Bauman
A well-reported story that exposes the millions that banks are paying U.S. colleges to market checking accounts and other banking services to students. The piece stands out for its excellent use of data and public records, and for personal stories that bring to life the financial concerns of students, parents and consumer advocates.

 

PERSONAL FINANCE – Small

Winner: The Motley Fool, for Matthew Frankel’s columns
Frankel wins for his in-depth columns looking at the impact of the 2017 federal tax overhaul on average Americans and for his analysis of the implications of the Fed’s swing to raising interest rates for Americans. His prompt take on these shifting policies, and his smart and readable approaches, helps readers make sense of immensely complex topics so they can protect their pocketbooks.

Honorable mention: Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, for “Money Help for Aging Parents”
Sandra Block, Mark Solheim and Eileen Ambrose
Many seniors are unaware of their gradually declining capacity for managing their financial affairs. This piece was packed with solid tips on ways adult children can move into sensitive caregiving modes by advising aging parents on topics ranging from keeping up with the bills and estate planning to constantly being on alert for fraudulent schemes. This package of articles offered good suggestions about where families can turn for reliable advice in such situations.

 

REAL ESTATE – Large

Winner: Bloomberg News, for “Cashing In on Calamity”
Prashant Gopal
The scope of the concept was high; global warming is causing more catastrophes, causing more reconstruction, and here’s what that looks like on the ground. The judges were impressed that it was one reporter doing all the work. Prashant Gopal wove together detailed and compelling individual stories to construct a big and important story, one that will continue into the future.

 

REAL ESTATE – Medium

Winner: POLITICO, for “Puerto Rico seeks aid for tens of thousands of squatters”
Lorraine Woellert and M. Scott Mahaskey
A beautifully written and deeply reported story on how Hurricane Maria exposed the open secret of tens of thousands of squatters living illegally in Puerto Rico. Woellert writes persuasively about how the island’s political structure has compounded the problem for many years, and why its leaders now must decide what to do. The terrific photographs bring the story to life.

Honorable mention: The Arizona Republic, for HOA foreclosures”
Jessica Boehm and Catherine Reagor
This solidly reported, multimedia package alerted Arizona homeowners to the risks they face from their homeowners associations. As this extensively researched and well-written project explained, these largely unregulated bodies have broad powers that include the right to seize homes in foreclosure for as little as $1,200 in unpaid dues. A series of engaging videos that included first-person accounts helped to unravel the causes and impact of the most recent wave of foreclosures spurred in part by the recovery in home prices.

Honorable mention: The Seattle Times, for Amazon coverage
Mike Rosenberg, Ángel González, Bettina Hansen, Mark Nowlin, Judy Averill, Kjell Redal, Thomas Wilburn and Alan Berner
As Amazon turns Seattle into a true company town, The Seattle Times documented that transformation with sharp data analysis and graphics, crisp writing and a novel approach to storytelling. The numbers alone are striking – from rising rents to sheer volume of office space – but we found the story that followed one home through the selling process particularly effective in illustrating the speed and craziness of the Seattle housing market.

 

REAL ESTATE – Small

Winner: Puget Sound Business Journal, for Marc Stiles package of stories
Marc Stiles
A great package with three very different topics – a shady real-estate developer, a neighborhood in turmoil over gentrification, and a profile of the man in charge of building Amazon’s second headquarters. For each, Stiles consistently brought excellent reporting and writing to bear, resulting in stories that were in-depth, nuanced and compulsively readable. His work stood out in a competitive environment for real-estate submissions.

Honorable mention: The News Tribune (Tacoma), for Fight for your country, lose the bidding war for a house”
Kate Martin
Martin highlighted an underreported problem in the real estate market—former soldiers who were unable to successfully use loans from the Department of Veterans Affairs to purchase a home. Martin did a terrific job of detailing the scope of the issue, talking to affected veterans, real estate brokers and lenders about what was going on and why. Martin did this well before more national media became interested in similar cases later in 2017.

 

RETAIL – Large

Winner: The Wall Street Journal, for “Retail in Crisis”
Suzanne Kapner, Valerie Bauerlein, Esther Fung and Yaryna Serkez
The Wall Street Journal staff explores the retail industry’s transformation in vivid detail, first taking readers to a retail-dependent city where store closings are causing waves of economic woes and then exploring the pressures on an old-school retailer struggling to compete in a rapidly-changing world. This entry is topped off with an innovative interactive tracing the slow death of an American mall by tracking tenant life cycles dating to 1995. Excellent work all around in this category’s deepest and most complete entry.

Honorable mention: Los Angeles Times, for Counterfeit Shoes”
David Pierson
Readers got enlightening glimpse into a $460 billion industry: counterfeit goods. Using rapper Kanye West’s luxury sneakers as his hook, Pierson’s deep reporting is complemented by rich storytelling to produce a piece that’s compelling on many levels, from the technology used to produce replicas of these high-priced kicks to the mind-set of buyers who rationalize their decisions to purchase fake goods.

 

RETAIL – Medium

Winner: Report on Business Magazine, for Inside the messy transformation of Tim Hortons”
Marina Strauss
An in-depth look at the transformation of Tim Hortons after the iconic Canadian brand was acquired by private equity firm 3G Capital. Strong details and storytelling transformed a local story into a bigger business saga. Disgruntled franchisees formed an association and used details from the article in their complaint to the company.

Honorable mention: BusinessInsider.com, forDefining the Retail Apocalypse”
Hayley Peterson
Smart reporting and bright writing differentiated this series from other submissions on the demise of the retail industry. The package provided three angles to the crisis: including engaging pieces on retail job loss, the decline of Sears and the impact of store closings on bond holders.

 

RETAIL – Small

Winner: Racked, for “eBay is Playing Catch-Up “
Chavie Lieber, Christie Hemm Klok and Laura Bullard
A smart story, written with authority, that tackles an interesting area of the online marketplace and focuses on eBay, a company that the judges hadn’t really thought about for a long time. Lieber provides insight into the strategic decisions the company has made as it struggles to fend off competitors including mighty Amazon.

Honorable mention: Capital & Main, for a package of retail features
Jessica Goodheart
In A Dream and a Microwave: Everytable Serves Healthy Meals to Hungry ‘Hoods, Goodheart writes deftly on a compelling and socially important topic: how to make healthy eating affordable for everyone. Her reporting about a fledgling restaurant chain with a unique business model is comprehensive and rich with voices.

 

SMALL BUSINESS/MANAGEMENT/CAREER – Large

Winner: The Wall Street Journal, for “Contracted”
Lauren Weber
The package of stories was well-researched and well-done as it toggled between data and real-world examples filled with people and companies. It was written and edited at a high level, making it an enjoyable read on a fairly wonky subject. We also liked the kicker at the end of the main story about bots. The sidebar on the video-game industry was particularly engaging, and a smart story to do to draw in a younger demographic of readers. Altogether, the trio of stories gave a good 360-degree view of an issue certain to become more pressing in the economy.

 

SMALL BUSINESS/MANAGEMENT/CAREER – Medium

Winner: Fortune, for Can AT&T Retrain 100,000 People? “
Aaron Pressman
This story struck a great balance. It took us inside a single, massive company to examine an interesting change and grappled with an existential crisis many businesses are facing: skills mismatch in an era of technological progress. The outcome is a story that is well-developed and resonant.

Honorable mention: Minneapolis Star Tribune, for Cost of affair, family rift measured in millions”
Jeffrey Meitrodt
A deeply reported story that chronicled executive negligence at a prominent Minnesota firm owned by the Barry family, and the turmoil that followed.

 

SMALL BUSINESS/MANAGEMENT/CAREER – Small

Winner: LinkedIn, for “Managing Business “
Chip Cutter
Impressive reporting effort to show a U.S. labor market in the grip of rapid change. One notable conclusion: The changes aren’t all in the same direction. Readers get to watch up close as truckers exploit a driver shortage and employers despair over the opioid crisis. A scoop about a Walmart floor scrubber shows how automation is creeping into American workplaces. The stories make abstract issues concrete, bolstering the musing of experts with compelling, real-world examples.

Honorable mention: Inc. Magazine, for Main Street”
Leigh Buchanan
Bright writing and detailed reporting is employed to tell enlightening stories about small business. We especially liked a piece that profiled a family of immigrant hotel entrepreneurs, telling the story of how they grew a small business into a much bigger one and the creative and thoughtful ways they reacted to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Her two other articles described a unique solution to the problem of the fading family farm and the surprising source of all those cardboard eclipse glasses last year.

 

STUDENT JOURNALISM – Projects and collaborations

Winner: The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and The Arizona Republic, for “Arizona owners can lose homes over $50 in back taxes”
Emily Mahoney and Charles Clark
This story packs a powerful punch, showing the devastating impact of tax liens on some Arizona homeowners, particularly minorities and the poor. It recounts the experience of one family and then uses data analysis to illustrate the magnitude of the problem. Bravo on the map. The complex process of tax liens and foreclosure is laid out in an understandable fashion that makes readers want to stay with the story until the end. Many sources are featured, including individuals who are going through the worst time of their lives and are therefore reluctant to speak publicly. This is an example of strong community reporting that can lead to change.

 

STUDENT JOURNALISM – Stories written for professional publications

Winner: University of North Carolina and Triangle Business Journal, for Losing the Fight to Debt”
Danielle Chemtob
Excellent journalism and a unique story angle for a topic that’s been covered exhaustively — student debt. Reporter Danielle Chemtob took an in-depth look at the high amount of debt taken on by students at historic black colleges and universities. Though the story included a lot of hard data on rising tuition costs and flat wages, she kept it interesting and personal by speaking to students and school leaders.

Honorable mention: The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, for “Profits of Policing”
Agnel Philip and Emily Mahoney
Profits of Policing sheds light on a largely hidden area, exposing shortcoming in the accounting and reporting of seized personal property. Reporters Emily Mahoney and Agnel Philip did an incredible amount of digging for this report. An added bonus: The video of the 76-year-old man, who could lose everything as a result of this personal property seizure program, provided a very personal element to this in-depth investigation.

 

STUDENT JOURNALISM – Stories written for student publications

Winner: Medill News Service, for “Opportunities open up for women truckers, but their numbers remain small”
Shen Lu
Touching on two issues of national importance — gender equity in the workplace as well as a trucker shortage — the article told the story of two women struggling to make it in a male-dominated workplace, while putting their experiences into a broader context. The engaging article smartly wove in graphics and photos and mixed the macro and micro for a fascinating business story.

 

TECHNOLOGY – Large

Winner: The New York Times, for “Inside Uber”
Mike Isaac
An insightful profile of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick that examined how his personality evolved from his high school years, how his penchant for risk-taking shaped Uber and led to the company’s managerial crisis. This series contained remarkable reporting about Kalanick’s showdown with Apple CEO Tim Cook and use of a technique called “Greyballing” aimed at deceiving local governments about Uber’s activities. In-depth reporting, quality writing and compelling multimedia made this series the clear winner.

Honorable mention: Los Angeles Times, for Snap IPO”
David Pierson, James Rufus Koren, Paresh Dave, Joe Fox and Ben Muessig
The judges were impressed by the breadth and quality of writing on the initial public offering of Snap Inc., particularly the remarkable profile of Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. This series included a clearly written article on shareholder governance and Snap’s attempt to retain control of the company after the IPO. The judges also commend a clever interactive graphic that describes the volatility and price declines of much-publicized tech stock offerings.

 

TECHNOLOGY – Medium

Winner: ProPublica, for “Automating Hate”
Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Lauren Kirchner, Ariana Tobin, Madeleine Varner, Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Rob Weychert, Noam Scheiber, Hannes Grassegger and Stefanie Dodt
A clear winner — well-written, newsworthy, and one that made an impact. This trio of stories takes an inventive, investigative look at the underside of social-media giant Facebook and its not-so-politically correct ways, highlighting how hard it is to make it accountable. The in-depth and original reporting shows how the company’s guidelines for censoring hate speech let controversial posts slip through the cracks while unfairly shutting down more reasonable ones, and it exposes how easy it is for employers to use Facebook’s technology to exclude older workers from job ads. While these stories were written last year, the subject they tackled remains critical in today’s charged political environment.

Honorable mention: Fortune, for “Blockchain Mania!”
Robert Hackett and Jeff John Roberts
This piece tackles a complicated and technically challenging subject with aplomb and creates a great explainer that’s also an engaging read.

 

TECHNOLOGY – Small

Winner: The Center for Public Integrity, for “Saving face: Facebook wants access without rules”
Jared Bennett and Allan Holmes
A deep, broad look at a project that an increasingly dominant company has worked hard to avoid scrutiny. The topic has huge potential implications for privacy, technology and the consolidation of power. The story draws its force from crisp writing, good graphics and, above all, impressively thorough reporting.

Honorable mention: Triangle Business Journal, “How an $850 million deal died for a Durham company”
Lauren Ohnesorge
This story goes deep inside a collapsed investment by a German giant in a North Carolina tech company to show how international trade policy hits home in American cities. It was well-written, clearly organized and comprehensively reported, with informative graphics.

 

TRAVEL/TRANSPORTATION – Large

Winner: The Wall Street Journal, forSelf-Driving Cars”
Tim Higgins, Jack Nicas, Ianthe Jeanne Dugan and Mike Spector
The WSJ stories were our top pick for the deeply reported insight into perhaps the biggest issue facing the transportation industry: self-driving cars. The submitted pieces covered three of the most important players — Tesla, Google and Uber — and raised important concerns about safety, tensions with Detroit and theft of intellectual property. The stories showed impressive sourcing and research and used storytelling elements to bring the stories to life.

 

TRAVEL/TRANSPORTATION – Medium

Winner: Fortune, for “The Last Railroad Tycoon”
Shawn Tully
Well-written, engaging and insightful — the story took readers inside the CEO’s attempt to remake a fourth railroad after three previous successes. Hunter Harrison’s gambit lives on after his death and is the biggest story in U.S. railroading in a decade.

Honorable mention: Quartz, for Uber’s New York subprime leasing program and the drivers it hurt”
Alison Griswold
Uber’s turnabout showed the impact of the story. Quartz was effective in highlighting the human element of drivers caught in the rent-to-own trap, helping readers make a more-personal connection. The follow-up with drivers afterward also was a nice touch.

 

TRAVEL/TRANSPORTATION – Small

Winner: The Information, forUber’s Hell”
Amir Efrati
The year 2017 became a reckoning for Uber in so many ways, from how it attempted to skirt, or even potentially break, the law in thwarting competitors and regulators to its disgraceful treatment of women in its workplace. The company’s hard-charging CEO thought he could rule Uber as his personal kingdom but discovered otherwise, with his downfall resulting in major drama. The stories broke new ground in nearly every area of controversy at the company – delivering investigative scoops that punched well above its weight. From exposing secret programs to spy on its competitor Lyft to documenting sexual misconduct instances pervasive at the company, The Information’s work was an amazing example of hard-hitting business reporting that never let up and never backed down.

Honorable mention: Jacksonville Business Journal Reporter, for “Employed & Homeless: As CSX changes plans, dispatchers left in limbo during holidays”
William Robinson
This story showed just how vulnerable employees are to the whims of shifting winds at a corporation like CSX. They uprooted their lives and started moving based on the company’s direction that their jobs were being relocated, only to suddenly have the company change its mind. Good solid story and notable that the company kept trying to deny what was happening, requiring the reporter to prove it through dogged reporting involving documents and persuading the employees to go on record.

 

VIDEO – Large

Winner: CNBC, forBroken Bonds”
Leslie Picker, Scott Zamost, Dawn Giel, Chris Mulligan, Jackie Dessel, Alex Herrera, Leroy Jackson and Scott Matthews
CNBC’s powerful entry gave viewers strong investigative material gleaned from a wide variety of sources. This CNBC piece apparently wasn’t the first reporting on this long running issue, but it detailed the issue with sweep, depth and clarity, tackling an important subject and serious questions about UBS’s actions as crucial concerns grew about the product it was marketing. The look of the video itself was clean and straight forward, but it clearly took deep reporting, meaningful resources and time to craft it.

 

VIDEO – Small and Medium

Winner: Quartz in collaboration with Retro Report, for “What Happens Next”
This series was thorough and polished, plus it was on-topic. The aerial footage! Looks like they used drones to good effect. Impressive production quality and it conveys relevant info. The well-produced videos took us to new and different places, telling us something we didn’t know and relating it to the world we live in. Excellent work.

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

555 North Central Ave, Suite 406 E, Phoenix, AZ 85004-1248
Phone: (602)-496-7862

E-mail: sabew@sabew.org

©2001 - 2018 Society of American Business Editors and Writers, Inc.

SABEW Home