News

2023 Best in Business Honorees – Judging Comments

Banking/Finance

Large division

Winner – A collaboration of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, OCCRP and Paper Trail Media; Cyprus Confidential
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists deserves special recognition for telling the story of how Russian kleptocrats laundered money through nominally democratic nations, like Cyprus. In the process, the ICIJ’s hundreds of global journalists set a new bar for international investigative reporting. The rest of the business reporting world has some catching up to do.

Honorable Mention – Bloomberg News; Wall Street’s Housing Hustle
The series exemplifies what journalism should be by shedding a light on a dark corner in the U.S. bureaucracy and exposing its failures. It uncovers a little-noticed federal entity that strayed so far from its original mission that it’s virtually unrecognizable, and compromised itself to the point where ethical boundaries are entirely out of focus. Well-written, hard-hitting, and rather disturbing for anyone who currently owns, or ever wants to buy, a home.

Medium division

Winner – A collaboration of the Center for Public Integrity and Pushkin Industries; The Heist: Land of Broken Promises
A stirring, empathetically told story that is beautifully presented in a multitude of formats — audio, visual, written. The piece introduces you to the Black farmers left behind by creditors. The amount of work that went into finding data that is not readily available is a testament to calling for aid to those who really need it. The writing/audio here is engaging and informative. Great work!

Small division       

Winner – The Information; Banking Fakes and Scams
The Information’s Michael Roddan produced an outstanding package of stories, including his revelation that a top U.S. banking and fintech regulator faked his employment history and educational background on his resume. Roddan also found that U.S. regulators forced a small bank in Iowa to stop taking on new customers for its partnership with a Venmo-like app that served 2 million people. His story showed how small banks that join with fintechs in search of exponential growth often fail to ensure compliance with regulations. Finally, he detailed compliance lapses at a fintech firm in which JPMorgan Chase invested. These stories offer penetrating insights into the weaknesses of banking and fintech regulation.

Honorable Mention – Capital & Main; Dirty Money: U.S. Banks and the Climate Crisis
This package provides a strong, compelling, and timely overview of where the anti-ESG movement stands, and how sustainable investing has become a flashpoint in the culture wars. Utilizing excellent analysis, eye-catching charts, colorful quotes, and clear, jargon-free writing, journalist Marcus Baram lays out why renewable energy remains an idea that’s easier to embrace in theory than in practice for big business in the U.S. — and how banks continue to prop up fossil fuels and the coal industry, despite their high-profile, and highly praised, commitments to do the opposite.


Best Range of Work

Large division

Winner – Bloomberg News; Josh Eidelson
Really important reporting — and a wide range — on one of the biggest worker stories of the year. Something about BusinessWeek features just really scratch that journalistic itch. Josh’s pieces were no exception. The judges loved his deep and thorough reporting, especially with the Dollar General story as he was able to tell that story also in a podcast form. Storytelling via writing is different than in video, and Josh demonstrated with his video submission that he can repackage his reporting for video well. For these reasons, he took the judges’ top pick for “best range of work.”

Honorable Mention – The Washington Post; From OnlyFans and Truth Social to War, Discord and Healthcare Data
Wonderfully written and well-reported features on a wide range of topics! The OnlyFans piece might be one of the most fascinating articles the judges have read from 2023.

Medium division

Winner – Time; Alana Semuels
Alana Semuels demonstrated her range as a reporter and her ability to identify, report, and write engaging and informative stories on subjects that people encounter in their lives. Not only did she tackle and master a breadth of topics — such as Walmart, security guards, job hunting, solar panels and remote work — she also demonstrated proficiency in delivering varied article types: investigative, feature, explanatory, and commentary. Each article was well-sourced with voices from experts and everyday people along with insightful data that required diligent research and even one FOIA request. Her writing was smooth, accessible and entertaining.

Honorable Mention – Forbes Magazine; Alex Konrad
Alex Konrad showed how a decade-plus of experience and sourcing could result in a varied range of work on the technology beat. He deftly alternates between breaking news — advancing a fast-developing story on OpenAI’s Sam Altman and nailing interviews with the main executives in the Sequoia split on the day of the news — to an insightful profile on Wiz CEO Assaf Rappaport with a video component. He also flexed his investigative chops, again dipping into his rolodex of sources, to unearth two stories on X, formerly Twitter, and VCs during the SVB turmoil. Though his main audience may be those well-versed on the topics he covers, Alex’s writing is fluid and easy to follow for any reader.

Small Division

Winner – Grist; Jake Bittle
Jake Bittle really grasps how to write about climate issues in a way that grips reads — explaining how it impacts people’s lives, pocketbooks and their communities. Looking at it through the lens of water access, housing and insurance were really smart ways to drive the story. Jake showed deep reporting and colorful storytelling in his range of work.

Honorable Mention – Pittsburgh Business Times; Paul J. Gough’s manufacturing, health care coverage
Paul Gough covered one of the biggest business stories of the year from both a global and local perspective, not only breaking news on the battle for US Steel but adroitly explaining the immense impact and ripple effects for the Pittsburgh area, the US and around the world. Connecting those dots are so essential to readers — and not easy to do.

Honorable Mention – Crain’s New York Business; Nick Garber
Nick Garber is a digger in the Big Apple. He uncovered an obscure and curious city office staffed by cronies of the mayor. He shined a spotlight on the $2.6 million lobbying sweepstakes for New York City’s casino license. He found solutions for the city’s paltry voter turnout and then, after the election, tailed pols and power brokers to their Puerto Rico deal-making retreat.


Breaking News

Large division

Winner – The Wall Street Journal; The Failure of First Republic
Great original reporting and smart analysis on a quick-moving story. The comprehensive coverage across multiple different publishing formats (articles, blog, videos, column) shared a variety of perspectives.

Honorable Mention – The Washington Post; UAW goes on strike
This entry did a great job at showing multiple different perspectives, with strong front-line reporting that covered a variety of formats and told the story for different audiences.

Medium division

Winner – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; US Steel to be sold
This deeply reported package of stories did a superb job of covering Nippon Steel’s bid to take over U.S. Steel, one of America’s most iconic companies. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette journalists laid out the basic facts clearly and succinctly, but they also went far beyond that. They included valuable history, context and local color, as well as fine background on local and national political implications. This package also included excellent graphics, including a timeline dating back to 1900. These stories helped readers understand and appreciate the significance of the story and why it is interesting and important not only for business news readers but for all of us.

Small division

Winner – The Information; OpenAI Fires Its CEO
The stories were well-sourced and provided good, real-time context for what was happening at the firm.

Honorable Mention – The Lever; How Corporate Cash Derailed Americans’ Safety
An excellent, well-reported series that broke news.


Commentary/Opinion

Large division

Winner – Bloomberg Opinion; Magnetic North
An extraordinary package of pieces that shed light on an unlikely and widely ignored emerging superpower contest area. All of the pieces are exceptional in their granularity, rich with details that make the topics come alive.

Honorable Mention – The New York Times; The New New World
Li Yuan’s work should be must-reading for anyone interested in China’s economic and political affairs. Her pieces on Chinese who are taking extraordinary routes to get into the U.S., bookended by the piece about the best and brightest emigrants who are looking elsewhere than the U.S., offer important insights. She keeps us all current on often little-noted realities about her native country.

Medium division

Winner – MarketWatch; Trusts and Wills
Beth has a nice knack for taking personal challenges with complex financial situations and making them relevant and helpful to her audience. Good information and a good read.

Honorable Mention – The Boston Globe; Shirley Leung
The judges liked the fact that this columnist actually put some shoe leather work in to visit the areas and people she was writing about. It gives her work credibility and a realistic flavor.

Small division

Winner – Crain’s Chicago Business; Joe Cahill commentary
Strong reporting and reasoning. Cahill’s digging produces surprising and important revelations for readers, framed by incisive commentary. He writes concisely and clearly, and he gathers strong evidence for opinions and conclusions that are easily clear to the reader.


Data Journalism

Large division

Winner – The New York Times; American Insights
The entry presented three stories that tackled important issues – Why are college graduates leaving coastal cities? Why are so many American pedestrians being killed? How can cities turn empty office buildings into much-needed housing? – through data analysis. Each story was well-written and -presented, backed by strong graphics and art. A clear winner.

Medium division

Winner – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; American Dream for Rent
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s data-driven investigation into the causes of the lack of affordable housing provided solid context with trends in the national real estate market, illustrated with terrific graphics. This series served the public interest by exploring the connections between the local housing market and the large Wall Street investment firms that are snapping up properties, jacking up rents, and failing to respond to routine maintenance requests.

Small division

Winner – HousingWire; The data behind the real estate industry’s upheaval in 2023
Will’s articles take three different real estate topics and break them down using data and visuals to explain them in easily digestible packages. He used academic studies, company presentations and lobbying data that were complemented by charting skills.


Economics

Large division

Winner – The Wall Street Journal; Promise and Peril of America’s Manufacturing Revival
This story was top quality work. It brought readers inside to the ongoing hollowing out of the U.S. manufacturing sector, while also telling the human stories behind all of this. This is likely to be a key point of focus, again, come election season later this year. We would also add this was a very visually appealing story – great photos and images helped to further support the text reporting for the story.

Honorable Mention – Los Angeles Times; How the remote-work revolution is changing California
This story shed light onto a topic still being dusted under the rug by big companies: the life of all the remote workers they hired during the pandemic and what they are now asking from them. The judges liked the focus on the human stories behind remote work life, which should serve as a reminder to big companies that you can’t just ask these people to upend their lives simply because you want them back in a cubicle. The images in this story were also nicely supportive of the text storytelling.

Medium division

Winner – The Boston Globe; People Are Leaving
The Globe team combines lively, vivid writing and sharp, clear data points to create a compelling narrative about the economic challenges facing Massachusetts. These reporters brought statistics to life with powerful interviews and creative features such as audio clips and a terrific interactive calculator.

Small division

Winner – THE CITY; Covering the NYC Economy
The judges are awarding Greg David for his nuanced, well-sourced and empirically compelling analysis of trends and problems in New York City’s economy, providing a depth and quality of coverage that readers might not otherwise receive.


Energy/Sustainability/Climate Change

Large division

Winner – Bloomberg Green; Water Grab In the US
This ambitious entry delivered on all fronts. The Bloomberg team combined stellar reporting, sharp writing, powerful photos and illuminating graphics to reveal how some of the world’s largest financial firms — TIAA, UBS and John Hancock, to name a few — were extracting California groundwater for profit, draining the available drinking water for nearby residents.

After the story’s publication, California policymakers put forward a bill to prohibit institutional investors from buying or selling agricultural water resources for financial gain. Follow-up stories on BlueTriton, went deeper into the role private equity plays in taking advantage of various state water laws.

Honorable Mention – The New York Times; Unchartered Waters
In this wide-ranging entry, the New York Times explained the national water crisis in frightening detail, exposing a 40-year decline in water levels. In addition, it showed how the parent company of bottled-water producer Poland Spring had secretly blocked legislation that would have limited its access groundwater. The 11-part series had a major impact on policymaking. The stories clearly explained such technical topics as arsenic in groundwater and “monster fracks,” and the interactive data visualizations are topnotch.

Honorable Mention – Bloomberg Green; Capturing Carbon
Strong, wide-ranging reporting from the U.K. to Australia to the U.S. Midwest uncovered the hidden reasons why the so-called planet-saving technology known as “carbon capture” are much riskier than it would otherwise seem. The reporting and editing deftly connects arcane policy to pocketbook issues, raising key questions about projects that purport to slow climate change.

Medium division

Winner – Nikkei Asia; Hydropolitics in Asia
This series spells out the factors and consequences of the competition for scarce fresh water supplies for much of humankind in compelling detail. The stories feature strong data, instructive interactives, and vivid writing. The examples of adaptation by communities already deeply affected by ramifications of climate change also provide a good look at potential solutions on the local level.

Honorable Mention – Detroit News; Guarding the Great Lakes
This is a standout entry with top notch reporting on how climate change is morphing the Great Lakes region. Not only are the main stories well written and compelling, but there are smart sidebars explaining why mercury is problematic, strong visuals to drive home the key points, and even a compelling use of a QR code where readers who missed other parts in the series can learn more.

The series provides clear explanations and compelling examples of the complex combinations of factors that endanger the lakes and their local industries. There’s also a welcome focus on the impacts on indigenous peoples and their livelihoods.

Small division

Winner – A collaboration of the Center for Public Integrity and Columbia Journalism Investigations; Toxic Labor
Large scale natural disasters generate tremendous news coverage when they occur, but the workers who clean up the aftermath of billions of dollars in damage rarely are mentioned. This investigation showed that the disaster recovery industry employs hundreds of itinerant workers, many of them uninsured migrants, who have little government protection as they are exposed to numerous undisclosed health hazards from toxic debris. As these workers moved from one clean-up site to another in Florida and Louisiana, they encountered asbestos, lead, mold and other toxic materials and later suffered numerous ailments.


Explanatory

Large division

Winner – Bloomberg News; How Russia Defied Sanctions to Keep Oil Funding Its War
This story moves far beyond the data to tell the story of how Russia has skirted sanctions to continue selling oil to China and the world despite restrictions imposed by the West to punish Putin for the invasion of Ukraine.  The team tracked down the ships that were used to transport oil – old, small ships that fell under the monitoring radar.  Judges felt this story was a textbook example of weaving story and data.  It was well told, impactful, and solved the mystery of how oil continued to flow, pouring money into Russian coffers.

Honorable Mention – CNBC; China’s Corporate Spy War
A powerful and compelling overview of what’s at stake as China tries to infiltrate U.S. companies to gain key intellectual property to win the economic war.  Told from the viewpoint of one case involving General Electric, the narrative moves quickly for viewers to understand how pervasive corporate spying is in the U.S., and how law enforcement is trying to stem the loss of corporate secrets.

Honorable Mention – Bloomberg Businessweek; Corporate America Promised to Add More People of Color. It Actually Did.
The murder of George Floyd set off nationwide protests and a rush of corporate reaction – namely to hire and promote Blacks and other people of color.  Bloomberg was able to show that in the year after the protests, large public companies added 300,000 jobs and 94% of those went to people of color. Bloomberg analyzed reams of stats to show that while the numbers were impressive, those jobs weren’t at senior ranks.  Judges said this context offered by Bloomberg is an excellent example of speaking truth to power.

Medium division

Winner – STAT; The Obesity Revolution
Commercials and news reports about the new obesity drugs that help people lose significant weight seem to be everywhere. Considering obesity a disease, pharmaceutical companies see billions of dollars and a wide playing field ahead for this new class of injectable medications. They’re even funding lectures and fellowships to medical schools on the topic. 

Journalists at STAT, however, went beyond the hype to diligently research and publish more than 20 stories on the future implications of these new drugs: They covered positives, concerns, costs, availability issues, to whom the drugs should be prescribed, government implications and more. Contest judges were impressed with the depth and professionalism of STAT’s coverage of this hot medical topic.

Honorable Mention – Miami Herald; The Foreclosure Franchise
Hundreds of property owners lost homes after Florida cities increased the number of foreclosures due to outstanding property fines. The firm of private attorney Matthew Weidner, a former foreclosure defense attorney, was paid $3 million as its cut in the “turbo foreclosures.”

Miami Herald learned the implications of all this through personal interviews with affected homeowners, most often in black neighborhoods. It also built a database of the almost 800 lawsuits since 2016. It found that 70 percent of owners sued didn’t have a defense attorney, many without ability to afford one. Foreclosures usually took homes from individuals and gave them to speculators.

The series prompted the city of Bradenton to overhaul its foreclosure process. It was also cited with the Florida Supreme Court by a public interest legal group challenging constitutionality of the property fines that led to foreclosure. Contest judges commended the Herald’s inspired tenacity.

Honorable Mention – The Boston Globe; The $600,000 Problem
This in-depth look at the housing crisis shed valuable light on the costs of construction, and the tradeoffs developers make when considering apartment projects at a time when there simply isn’t enough housing. This was a classic case of an ‘I learned a lot’ project that showed the complexity of the subject balanced with the very real needs of a tight and expensive housing market. Zoning, costs of construction and financing were explained in a thoughtful, thorough manner. The creation of a construction cost calculator that lets the reader ‘design’ a project was a smart and informative addition to the package.

Small division

Winner – Minnesota Reformer; Sugarland: Inside Minnesota’s massive, powerful sugar industry
Madison McVan weaves together a compelling look at the powerful sugar industry in “Sugarland: Inside Minnesota’s massive, powerful sugar industry.” Rich, narrative storytelling is woven alongside deeply researched explanations of the industry and the federal sugar program. This is an under-covered topic and impactful. Kudos to McVan for telling the story even without the cooperation of American Crystal Sugar. The photography enhances the storytelling.

Honorable Mention – Raw Story; Monuments to me
This is a nice example of activist journalism by Mark Alesia. The reporting includes sleuthing into under-reported public filings and holding political leaders accountable for their spending. It is a fascinating deep dive into how these leftover zombie funds are being used.

Honorable Mention – Endpoints News; Rare disease, common tragedy: How family-funded treatments stalled out at biopharma companies
Jared Whitlock shed light on drugmakers stopping work on therapies for rare diseases that are funded by patients’ families. His reporting told the story through the patients and families most affected by the economic and regulatory realities of the drug industry.


Feature

Large division

Winner – The New York Times; Immigrant Labor
Hannah Drier’s work here is impressive, affecting, important and told in a compelling way that reflects the extensive reporting that went into the series.

Honorable Mention – Financial Times; The bizarre and brutal final hours of FTX
The shoe-leather reporting by the Financial Times is impressive, allowing the writer to create a compelling take on the frantic final hours before FTX imploded.

Honorable Mention – Los Angeles Times; When ‘Shark Tank’ dreams become nightmares
Shark Tank makes entrepreneurial success look so easy. This story is a reminder of the perils entrepreneurs, even towering personalities like Bubba Baker, face when they invite outside investors into their business.

Honorable Mention – Bloomberg Businessweek; The Coke Can Conspiracy
Deeply reported and compellingly told story that both shines a light on corporate fears of intellectual property theft as well as the companies that illegitimately support it.

Medium division

Winner – A collaboration of OCCRP and Marshall Islands Journal; Chinese ‘Miracle Water’ Grifters Infiltrated the UN and Bribed Politicians to Build Pacific Dream City
This was a thoroughly reported, fascinating tale about a pair of characters who grifted an entire country. Despite its complexity, it was still clear and detailed at all points, with a deep dive into the characters involved.

Honorable Mention – KFF Health News; How Insurance Roadblocks Leave Patients in the Lurch
This is a very important story that shines a light on major ramifications for consumers and their health. We also appreciate that this is clearly an ongoing concern for the outlet, and the reporting is already making a difference as evidenced by its reporting on regulatory activity.

Honorable Mention – STAT; HCA doctors say its cost-cutting is endangering Appalachian patients — a warning for the whole U.S. health care system
This was a powerful story that shines a light on how people’s lives and local communities are affected by a growing issue in healthcare. This is good local reporting on a story of national significance with similar cost-cutting throughout the country.

Small division

Winner – Rest of World; Inside Foxconn’s struggle to make iPhones in India
From China to India, the writers take us behind the world of Foxconn, a company tasked with meeting high demand to manufacture iPhones. How and where Apple produces iPhones is something that a global audience is keen to read about. The scene-setting and storytelling between the two countries (with vastly different cultures) shows Foxconn’s struggle. The ability of a small publication to dig deep into Foxconn’s woes in India was impressive. The reporters humanized the story while shedding light on the corporate angle, using excellent sourcing, reporting, and writing. This was a clear choice for the award.

Honorable Mention – The Information; Amazon’s After-Dark Delivery Dangers
This harrowing story shows how American consumerism, coupled with post-pandemic paranoia and surging gun ownership, has placed Amazon gig drivers in the line of fire — literally. The details in the piece made it stand out, such as how the absence of the Amazon logo while delivering packages can prove deadly as drivers wearing street clothes use their own vehicles to male deliveries. The writer connected the dots well to inform readers about a group that many of us depend on and yet know very little about.

Honorable Mention – The Information; Google’s Darkest Days
This well-written piece offers an inside look at how Google treated their employees and what that meant for their mental health. The story goes behind employee suicides and mental anguish to show how a workplace can become toxic and what happens when anxiety that goes unnoticed reaches a tipping point. Vivid examples make clear that even Google is not immune after forcing cuts, layoffs and instability that touches its workforce and mental wellbeing. Excellent work by the reporter who had to speak with multiple people who suffered from mental health issues while at Google and ask them the tough questions — a difficult task that was done with sensitivity.


General Excellence

Industry/topic-specific publications

Winner – Endpoints News: Coverage of the US biotech and pharma industry
Endpoints, which covers the intersection of science, healthcare and business, offers a blend of scoopy news and sophisticated enterprise. The coverage is smart, comprehensive and innovative. A “Slack Interview” feature, for example, offers a fresh take on the traditional business Q&A. It’s easy to see why Endpoints is a go-to for industry readers.

Large division

Winner – Bloomberg News
Bloomberg News wins the competition for General Excellence–Large on the overall strength of its entry. It produced two excellent long-form narratives–one on how the U.S. government encourages handgun exports and the resulting carnage in places like Thailand; the other on how the TikTok algorithm is pushing children to commit suicide. Its piece on how Taylor Swift became a billionaire was smart and well reported. Its video narrative on how the Russians evade Ukraine-linked sanctions on its oil trade broke ground. Finally, Bloomberg broke news with its beat-reporting scoop on how fake parts are being used to repair engines used in popular 737 and A320 airliners.

Medium division

Winner – STAT’s authoritative coverage of the business of health and medicine
STAT demonstrated impactful coverage of drug makers and health insurers. Many reporters excel at documenting how businesses shortchange customers from the point of view of those customers. In the case of health insurance giant UnitedHealth, reporters at STAT got inside the company to reveal its secret decision to delegate coverage-ending decisions to an automated system. That decision boosted the company’s profits, hurt countless patients, and potentially broke federal regulations. STAT’s explanatory feature on obesity drugs was a thorough resource for health professionals.

Honorable Mention – Barron’s
This entry showcased the range of Barron’s reporters and editors. The journalism revealed unethical or questionable practices in industries ranging from home lending to fintech, provided insights on online gambling businesses and detailed problems with offshore wind power.

Small division

Winner – Crain’s New York Business
The judges chose this entry as the winner for its diverse range of impactful, data-driven accountability coverage united by a strong voice.

Honorable Mention – Nashville Business Journal
The judges chose this entry as the honorable mention for its passion and creativity in engaging with its readership’s needs as well as its wants.


Government

Large division

Winner – The New York Times; Alone and Exploited
Hannah Dreier’s poignant series cast a spotlight on a little-known federal government failing: the lack of oversight that’s allowed manufacturers across the country to violate child labor laws. What really made Dreier’s series so compelling though was her diligent and thorough reporting, in which she interviewed hundreds of children working in sweat-shop conditions or worse here in the United States, and the way she was able to tell some compelling stories about several of those children and the struggles they face. It’s no surprise that Dreier’s work drew an immediate reaction from the White House and a subsequent crackdown. If not for her coverage and her story-telling skills, this unfortunate element of our economy would in all likelihood remain overlooked.

Honorable Mention – The Wall Street Journal; Unpacking Bidenomics
Greg Ip’s cogent commentary on the Biden administration’s economic policies offer a clear explanation for how the current president is trying to change the game with economic stimulus, and why it is backfiring, at least as measured by political popularity. Ip puts the blame on the high inflation that’s taken a big bite out of consumers’ buying power, in part caused by Biden’s efforts to stoke the economy.

Honorable Mention – The Wall Street Journal; The Toxic Atmosphere at the FDIC
Who would have thought that a federal banking regulator, presumably staid and solid, would have a toxic culture evocative of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” even after the widespread reforms spurred by the #MeToo movement? Rebecca Ballhaus’ eye-opening reporting, drawing on interviews with 100 current and former employees, revealed the extensive sexual harassment and discrimination at the agency and forced its chairman to commission an independent investigation.

Medium division

Winner – A collaboration of KFF Health News and Cox Media Group; Overpayment Outrage
The story tackles a very serious issue of social security agencies being exposed and how blunders/miscalculations mean people’s benefits are clawed back. Hard-hitting investigation and very moving news feature — especially as those impacted are the poorest of the poor, the elderly, and the disabled, many with medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, or autism. This article triggered action. Excellent journalism.

Honorable Mention – The Arizona Republic; Affordable housing crisis has ‘waitlist shoppers’ across US vying for few Arizona vouchers.
The story has an important theme: Affordable housing is disappearing so quickly, people are trying to move to other states just to get subsidized rent. As the story unfolds, you understand there’s a cruel intent to the program, which is clearly shown to be a twisted lottery system. This is truly an outrageous thing happening in our country, and the writer tells it well with simple writing and judicious use of size and scope.

Small division

Winner – A collaboration of Investigate Midwest and Flatwater Free Press; Pigs and Power
The judges loved how this entry holds the powerful accountable and breaks new ground tying the water supply environmental impact to the governor’s business ties. A timeless, traditional investigation, but one of great importance.

Honorable Mention – Raw Story; Losing Track
This is an important but much overlooked and taken for granted area that calls for more scrutiny, especially given the new relevance with the investigations into former President Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents.


Health/Science

Large division

Winner – The Washington Post; Memory, Inc.
This series of articles maps out an underreported area of the health-care industry that impacts so many American families at some point in their lives. Each article is compelling and reported deeply and with great care and sensitivity. Particularly impressive is the surveillance video obtained while reporting. By documenting the financial failures of the segment, the series casts a harsh light on the U.S. health-care industry as a whole. It also underscores the lack of regulation and penalties faced by facilities and their owners when dementia patients wander off. The articles spurred the Senate Special Committee on Aging to action, which demanded information from the leading companies in the segment and scheduled a hearing.

Honorable Mention – The New York Times; Operating Profits
These articles expose the wide gap between profitable medical procedures and the actual need for them. They revealed a variety of shocking, unethical practices by health-care providers in meticulous detail without resorting to sensationalism. This excellent reporting had an impact, prompting medical societies to review the findings and New York state health officials to investigate.

Honorable Mention – The Wall Street Journal; Ozempic Inc.
In a field of articles about the rise of the Ozempic weight loss drug, the Journal’s reporting stood out for its smart, insightful profiles of three companies at the forefront of the industry. Weight-loss treatment is becoming a huge category for the pharmaceutical industry, and these stories provide an excellent primer on how that came to be. They also show how companies outside the pharmaceutical industry are leveraging the popularity of these drugs for their own benefit.

Medium division

Winner – STAT; Conflicts of interest are rampant between PBMs and consulting firms
An interesting, important story on a murky and complex subject. The piece does an excellent job of parsing spin and painting the conflict-of-interest concerns between PBMs and their consultants.

Honorable Mention – A collaboration of ProPublica and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; With Every Breath: Millions of Breathing Machines. One Dangerous Defect.
It’s a fantastic example of ‘You think you know what happened. but….’ The reporting team went deep under the hood of Philips’s operations to illustrate both the internal debates and corporate decisions that eventually resulted in harm to patients. The writing was crisp, purposeful and showed the despair people faced without being overly sensational. It’s an incredibly hard story to tell and the pieces are done well.

Honorable Mention – STAT; Denied by AI: How Medicare Advantage plans cut off care for seniors
By examining how AI is being used to prematurely cut Medicare Advantage patients off of benefits, Stat’s reporters revealed a nightmarish scenario where technology trumps common sense and a possible dystopian future that awaits us when AI is empowered to run more and more aspects of our lives.

Small division

Winner – A collaboration of The Examination and The Museba Project; Indian companies are bringing one of the world’s most toxic industries to Africa. People are getting sick.
This article represents the best of journalism. The team looked at an issue and spoke to (or attempted to) an array of people from all sides. They investigated the present situation first-hand, with interviews, official reports and scientific testing. The team dug into documents across borders, across time and across industries. The narrative presents details and facts in an easy-to-follow manner that belies the complexity of the subject matter. Whether the team works for media with 50 or fewer staff or 50 times than number, this is superb reporting, writing and graphic design. The story does not sensationalize at all, it presents evidence and lets the reader assess whether these recycling plants are risks to communities. It presents the age-old tale of the struggle between average people raising families and those seeking advantage — or at least looking the other way — through the flex of money and power. Readers cannot help but reflect on the plight of these communities with polluting plants in their backyards, and also think about similar situations — albeit not so dire — within their own neighborhoods.

Honorable Mention – AARP The Magazine; The $80 Million Health Care Fraud
This is an excellent example of one reporter spotting an interesting topic and digging deep beneath the surface to unveil a gripping tale of greed leading to tragedy. Rene Ebersole’s narrative is seamless as each of the heroes/villains and victims/perpetrators are examined and (in most cases) interviewed. The story is a useful, cautionary tale about patients’ absolute trust in their medical practitioners and how “easy money” can lead people to do evil things. Ebersole does solid work in differentiating each character and shows there is no absolute black or white even in cases of fraud. The story is valuable not only as a single-subject tale, but also as a warning about weak regulation, potential for corruption and the need for safeguards of computer systems. Impressive writing and reporting, and use of comics as graphics enhance the package.


Innovation

Large division

Winner – Financial Times; Inside North Korea’s oil smuggling
Not only did this entry show clear journalistic merit – impacting the movement of the vessels it highlighted and revealing some of the individuals involved in enabling a dangerous regime – but made excellent use of dynamic visuals and video to make a very complicated story clearer to the audience. The combination of satellite images and artist renderings gave readers insight into how and where these illicit shipments occurred. By using graphics that were not static, the piece enhanced the ability for readers to follow the story. And the video documentary that the team produced helped to explain even more clearly the geopolitical implications of their findings. This was an impressive multimedia package that helped to untangle what otherwise might have been an overly dense and confusing story.

Medium and small divisions

Winner – The Boston Globe; Can Gen-Z Make it in Boston?
The Boston Globe took a look at Gen Z and the challenges of carving a life for themselves in Boston. The presentation was very accessible and captured a wide variety of voices and experiences, making it relatable to anyone who has lived in an unaffordable big city. The judges were impressed with the rich graphics and interactive content.


International Reporting

Large division

Winner – Bloomberg Green; International Water Grab
From the mystical Wuyi Mountains in China to land roamed by West Africa’s largest nomadic people to the death of dairy farms in Australia, The International Water Grab highlights the issue of profiteering on what is essentially a “public good”. How much is too much?

The series captured not just stories that affected people’s lives but the feelings in the moment, as with the young dairy farmer, her life’s hope dashed as her family’s herd left the farm in trucks, returning the gaze of a cow named…. Hope. The series also captured not only the villainy of powerful interests usurping water, but also the impossibly complex and ambiguous politics of the ultimate scarce resource, growing scarcer.

It’s important to note that these articles have already triggered action. For example, the reporters traveled to Senegal to report on how an American investment company is using the country’s only lake to irrigate crops it plans to send to Saudi Arabia – while taps in Dakar run dry. The firm took water from the lake for two years without paying for it. The company responded to the government’s invoices only after Bloomberg Green contacted them.

Honorable Mention – A collaboration of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, NBC News, Reuters, The Guardian and The New Yorker; Trafficking Inc.
This series looked broadly at the crisis of human trafficking in international labor markets, touching not just on servitude, debt and freedom but also suicide. The reporting puts a face to human trafficking linked to large U.S. brand names. It is difficult to imagine how an individual could survive and support a family on $350 a month or work a 22-hour shift. It is worthy to note that the results of these reports have resulted in pledges to implement stronger standards and ensure refunds to workers who paid illegal recruiting fees.

Honorable Mention – The Washington Post; The Hidden Toll of Electric Cars
A true series from the Washington Post in its conception and presentation. EVs have been touted as a solution to beat back our need for fossil fuel guzzling transportation – but at what cost? How much do we really know about how and where our EV batteries are produced? The series seeks to answer the above as the journalists take the reader on a journey to otherwise inaccessible parts of the globe to uncover the true cost of the current industry from forced labor to dangerous mines, to help action real change and prevent history repeating itself.

In one of many heart-wrenching moments, the series put us in the shoes of an Indonesian farmer named Liyut, who was eager to show dead trees and a river running red to the visiting government official in charge of the nickel mines – but the minister never came to his village. 

Medium division

Winner – A collaboration of the Miami Herald and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists; Deforestation, Inc.
The stories clearly expose the problem of businesses that cash in on the lucrative forestry products trade in countries such as Myanmar that are led by regimes that oppress their people, engage in conflict and violate sanctions imposed against these regimes. The first story investigates the practice of shipping from Myanmar teak wood used for fancy yachts and upscale furniture despite a U.S. ban on such imports – stripping Myanmar forests and boosting that country’s military junta’s “reign of terror against its own people,” as the story says. All this while, auditors and government regulators label the businesses as sustainable. The second and third stories look into auditors such as KPMG that appear to be in conflict-of-interest positions, doing companies’ audits while acting as forestry auditors, monitoring environmental compliance for the forestry industry. The series is well documented, backed up by international trade and environmental violation data, inspection documents and court filings from about 50 countries, with insightful comments from credible sources. The stories explain why this issue matters: consumers may be unwittingly financing regimes that have deadly motives and carry out logging that leads to deforestation. Each of the three stories shows evidence that laws are being violated, and conflicts of interests are being employed. And each one skillfully weaves together anecdotal evidence with a discussion of the violations and conflicts of interest. Overall, the scope of the investigation is broad, involving several reporters across different outlets, and dealing with different geographies.

Especially significant is that the stories had a notable impact: the U.S. Justice Department launched a task force to curb trade in illegal wood, with the Miami Herald’s stories cited at the initiative’s rollout. As well, the European Union banned the import of deforestation-linked products, in part because of one of the stories, and lawmakers proposed a rule that would force companies to substantiate their marketing claims. Meanwhile, an international labor rights group accused the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme of ignoring workers’ rights while certifying timber products as sustainable.

Small division

Winner – The Outlaw Ocean Project; China: The Superpower of Seafood
This three-part series was an incredible illustration of pulling together a story with disparate pieces of data. Both the advanced research techniques and the risky negotiations that this team had to engage in to get access to these ships made this an easy winner. The mix of audio and video within the story itself creates a compelling narrative that brings readers into the reality of the horrific conditions that China creates for workers on these ships. Well done!


Investigative

Large division

Winner – Reuters; The Musk Industrial Complex
In a category rife with top-notch work, the Reuters series stands apart. The Reuters team approached Elon Musk’s business empire with courage and calm precision. The judges were impressed not only with the haunting individual anecdotes, but also the sweeping power of the data behind the series, all the more impressive given most of Musk’s empire is privately held, making documents and data harder to secure. Each piece is painstaking and compelling, making this entry as a whole the clear winner.

Honorable Mention – Bloomberg News; America, Global Gun Pusher
The Bloomberg team’s meticulous analysis of illicit gun movement, combined with easy-to-understand and startling graphics and painstaking anecdotes from Thailand and Guatemala made for an important – and alarming – series. Despite – or maybe because of – Sig Sauer’s lack of participation, this sweeping series is all the more revelatory and impressive.

Honorable Mention – The Washington Post; Memory, Inc.
This entry is compelling for many reasons, including the haunting videos that draw the reader into the series as well as the impressive trove of data from 29 states. The final piece in the series delivers clear insights about today’s faults in the system and how to begin fixing them. Elder care is a mainstay of investigative journalism, but the dogged reporting and thoroughness of this series makes it stand out.

Medium division

Winner – A collaboration of The Examination, Der Spiegel, Initium Media and Paper Trail Media; Smoking for the State: How China Became Addicted to its Tobacco Monopoly
Covering business in a country as controlling and secretive as China is challenging, and getting to the truth is even more elusive when it comes to reporting on a state-owned monopoly. That is what makes The Examination’s reporting on China National Tobacco Corp. so remarkable. The Examination brought on-the-ground detail, data and depth to a series of stories that revealed how China’s government-controlled tobacco monopoly undercut a landmark WHO anti-smoking treaty and stymied efforts by China’s own health officials to curb domestic addiction to cigarettes. This is a superbly told and dramatic story that is brought to life with powerful photography and data visualization. The Examination and its collaborators at Germany’s Der Spiegel and Singapore’s Initium Media took considerable risk to expose the abuse of power by the world’s biggest maker of cigarettes.

Honorable Mention – A collaboration of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and ProPublica; With Every Breath: Millions of Breathing Machines. One Dangerous Defect
Powerful companies have lots of ways to keep damaging news under wraps, but Philips Respironics, maker of life-supporting ventilators and breathing machines for people with sleep apnea, was no match for the reporters at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and ProPublica.  Their meticulously reported stories showed how the company kept life-threatening information about their contaminated machines from the Food and Drug Administration for 11 years before Philips recalled millions of breathing machines in 2021. Their coverage left Philips no room for company spin once regulators and private litigants moved in.

Honorable Mention – A collaboration of Capital & Main and ProPublica; Checked Out: How L.A. Failed to Stop Landlords from Turning Low-Cost Housing into Tourist Hotels
Los Angeles has laws to preserve affordable residential hotel housing for low-income, elderly and disabled people, but reporters at Capital & Main and ProPublica discovered that, amidst a homelessness crisis, no one was enforcing them. They combined extensive document searches with shoe-leather reporting to expose landlords who were wooing tourists to fill the rooms meant for the needy. The result was a skillfully written series that showed the human cost of enforcement failures – important local business reporting at a time we need it more than ever.

Small division

Winner – A collaboration of The Examination and The Museba Project; Indian companies are bringing one of the world’s most toxic industries to Africa. People are getting sick.
A superb report on the perils of unchecked industrialization. The reporting balances hard data with the human toll of lead poisoning in vulnerable communities, implicating the costs of globalization. The writing is clear and economical, and the decision to test soil samples to get independent results greatly bolsters the story. The graphic design and presentation are also first-rate — it’s so helpful when a piece distills the main points and marries them with photographs, charts and video. This is the total package — an important project, meticulously and powerfully executed.

Honorable Mention – K-12 Dive; The Education Department passes the buck on Title IX — and students pay the price
An excellent report on a shocking weakness in the protections for children in the U.S. education system. The stories are presented in clearly reported text and highlight the urgency of the issue with straight newswriting. This is the type of report that should spur action by officials on a number of levels and in multiple jurisdictions.


Investing/Markets

Large division

Winner – Bloomberg Businessweek; The Private Credit Frenzy
Interesting package of cohesive stories on private credit. The profile of HPS is particularly well-reported and written, adding a depth of knowledge for readers.

Honorable Mention – The Washington Post; How right-wing news powers the ‘gold IRA’ industry
Strong reporting on this barely-regulated industry, which preys on the elderly by using right-wing scare tactics. Good investigation.

Medium division

Winner – Miami Herald; A Financial Hurricane
This story is a true blockbuster that includes deep reporting, digging for critical financial information and a lot of colorful and telling details that paint a picture of a flashy high-flier brought down to earth in dramatic fashion. The fact that two days after the Miami Herald reported that the company was late filing an SEC document, the company filed it. That shows the high impact that this story had. It’s a classic story of greed run amok and a cautionary tale for readers. Once again, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Small division

Winner – The Information; IPO Drama
Reporter Cory Weinberg, along with colleagues Maria Heeter and Becky Petersen, used strong sourcing with investors, bankers and company insiders to deliver three stories that capture the high stakes and tension associated with preparing for an initial public offering. The series takes readers inside the minds of stakeholders at all levels, from CEO down, to give a glimpse into the process behind what is for many companies a momentous decision. The writing was concise and straightforward, helping to propel the narrative.

Honorable Mention – Coinage; He Stole $200 Million. He Gave It Back. Now He’s Ready to Explain Why.
Zack Abrams and Zack Guzman spin a rousing yarn of one of the biggest crypto heists, gaining access to the hacker for an inside look at what motivated him to steal $200 million in tokens only to give it back weeks later. The pair did an excellent job narratively and provided enough receipts to convincingly portray the protagonist as reliable.


Media/Entertainment

Large division

Winner – The New York Times; David Zaslav’s Grand Ambitions
This entry gave the judges a strong look behind the scenes of an extremely controversial leader who wasn’t really a public figure before becoming head of one of the world’s largest entertainment and media companies. The extensive leg work on this project speaks volumes for itself and shows in the little details all throughout the stories — setting up how the culture of Hollywood is, where Zaslav came from, moments from the strike — and we think this was extremely worthy of being nominated.

Additionally, the story about what happened at CNN brought a lot of clarity to a story that happened very quickly and involved some very high-profile people. That story was also well-reported. Journalism is also very much a business of relationships and access, and it was clear why it was so jarring when the new boss in town had other priorities.

Honorable Mention – Bloomberg Businessweek; The Unhappiest Place on Earth
The deep reporting was present in this story, but what the judges really enjoyed were the graphics: the graphs really helped condense a lot of information into a quick, easy-to-understand format. Seeing the visual representation of how much content (movies, shows & shorts) has been produced for the Marvel brand since Disney acquired it was revealing, as was its in-depth look at why Iger’s second round in the CEO spot is going so much differently than its first.

Medium and small divisions

Winner – Nikkei Asia; Bollywood’s gender revolution: Women are rewriting the rules
The writers tackle the important issue of a paucity of women in influential roles in the hugely popular film industry in India. The story’s extensive use of exclusive data backs up its thesis that women are slowly but markedly making progress in a country that counts as heroes male film stars. The journalists got access to key female actresses, directors, producers, writers, academics – as well as some men – who provide insightful comments about their experience and the overall dilemma – and what is being done to implement changes. The piece has good detail, such as the fact that superstar Deepika Padukone is one of the few female stars anywhere in the world to opt for “back-end deals,” in which “an actor is confident enough to take a percentage of the profits, usually in exchange for a smaller fee upfront. The upside can run into tens of millions of rupees,” as the story says. And it tells us clearly why it all matters:

People in India are so film-crazy that the portrayal of women can have outsized influence on how people behave. For example, a diversity expert points out that when domestic violence is glorified in a movie by a male superstar, an uptick in domestic violence tends to follow. And the writers point to financial benefits of women-led films: their research found that about 77% of female-led films were profitable, compared with 72% of the rest. The story suggests filmmakers in the past portrayed women as one-dimensional or secondary to the male stars, paying them a fraction and giving them a shelf life that rendered them most unemployed by the age of 30. The story skillfully weaves anecdotal evidence with data and a discussion of the issues. Still, problems persist, including lower pay for women. Even so, overall, the story has an impact in demonstrating that change exists and is possible in the film industry in India – and steps are being taken that should lead to more change.

Honorable Mention – Axios; Forbes’ Failed Financial Deal
This was an impressive collection of stories showing excellent sourcing and investigative skills. Using Axios’s distinctive “bullets” style, the writers laid out why this matters, what readers should look out for and what the stakes are.


Newsletter

Large division

Winner – Bloomberg Opinion; Money Stuff
In this exceptionally smart, innovative and delightful newsletter, Matt Levine shines. With great style, humor and expertise, Levine navigates some of the most complicated, wonky topics in business and financial markets and makes them understandable, interesting and a pure delight. Among many excellent newsletters, Money Stuff consistently stands out. It is original, creative, brilliant and written with great style. Money Stuff is a true gem.

Honorable Mention – Los Angeles Times; Boiling Point
Boiling Point does an excellent job combining several critical things: explaining the urgent realities of the climate crisis, weaving in local stories, and offering analysis and commentary that helps the reader make sense of a myriad of issues, from regulation to policy to personal consumption choices. The savvy mix of a conversational tone infused with data and local relevancy creates a strong model for similar reporting around the country.

Medium division

Winner – Axios; Resilient economy prevents recession
The judges were impressed by Axios Macro’s engaging, snappy style and insightful analysis, which consistently unpacks complex issues for readers and helps them understand how economic trends and other major business news affect their daily lives – and their wallets.

Small division

Winner – The Information; Dealmaker
Really impressive clarity and depth of knowledge. The judges like that it’s a vehicle for news-breaking as well as smart analysis.

Honorable Mention – Charter; Charter Briefing
This is really polished, as you’d expect from someone with such an impressive digital media pedigree. Targets a clear, specific audience without feeling niche and combines fresh material with a thorough roundup.


Personal Finance

Large division

Winner –Law360; Debt Firm’s Flameout a Cautionary Tale for Consumers
This story rips the cover off one of the slimiest industries in America. Replete with eye-opening quotes, detailed reporting, in-depth analysis and real-life stories of lives upended, this entry offers a sharp warning to consumers who are heavily in debt. It seamlessly provides a close-up look at one company and its clients and a wide-angle view of an industry that preys on consumers’ struggle to pay off credit card debt. The sidebar profile of the main attorney in the story is an excellent accompaniment that enhances the power of the main piece. It’s the complete package.

Honorable Mention – Bloomberg Businessweek; Just How Bad Is the US Cost-of-Living Squeeze? We Did the Math
Original, driven with graphics and written with pace, this story stands out among a sea of inflation takes. The story nicely drills down into each category, dividing groceries into sub-sections and showing the distinct, yet also rising, differences between the costs of buying and renting a home. It’s a look at the nuts and bolts of what is driving American inflation and pays attention to the day-to-day expenses that add up, like childcare, which really does paint a complete picture.

Medium division

Winner – Bloomberg Industry Group; Anatomy of a Tax Shelter: Maltese Pension Plans
This well-reported package takes readers behind the scenes of a tax scheme sheltering U.S. investors’ wealth in the Mediterranean island of Malta. Bloomberg Tax correspondent Michael J. Bologna lays out the details of these complicated arrangements in a way that is easy for readers to grasp. He weaves a compelling narrative that makes the most of intensive reporting, including sources and documents from key players inside the schemes.

Honorable Mention – Barron’s; Fixing the Retirement Crisis
Barron’s senior writer Elizabeth O’Brien’s exploration of key angles in the retirement crisis is an excellent example of news that readers can use. O’Brien draws on historical perspective to explore potential Social Security fixes and the difficulties of implementing such reform. In her piece on octogenarian workers, O’Brien skillfully uses such consumers’ stories to illustrate the financial motivations and challenges facing this growing slice of the workforce.

Small division

Winner – Raw Story; Lawmakers, law breakers
In this well-executed investigation, Alexandria Jacobson and Dave Levinthal reveal that 37 members of Congress failed to properly disclose personal stock trades in just one year. Their dogged reporting effort raises important questions about the adequacy and policing of financial conflict-of-interest laws designed to give Americans confidence in their lawmakers’ impartiality. 

Honorable Mention – Chicago Booth Review; Your Spending Habits Are All in Your Head
A fascinating look into how consumers shift and categorize their spending habits from a behavioral science angle.


Podcast/Audio

Large division

Winner – A collaboration of the Financial Times and Pushkin Industries; Hot Money: The New Narcos
In a competitive category, the Financial Times’s submission was a masterful example of features style journalism in audio format. Hot Money had a compelling investigative angle and thesis: Exploring organized crime through the lens of blue-chip business reporting. The characters were gripping, the narrative didn’t miss a beat, and the production value of this podcast was unparalleled. Altogether, it unraveled a story with twists and turns that spanned across several continents.

Medium division

Winner – The Globe and Mail; Better for It
Kiran Rana, Alisha Sawhney, Kyle Fulton and Temur Durrani of The Globe and Mail for “Better for It,” an empathetic, probing and delightful podcast series that shed light on the challenges and triumphs of noteworthy Canadian entrepreneurs in sectors such as gaming, cannabis and apparel.

Small division

Winner – Inc. Magazine; Computer Freaks
This internet origin story is a captivating listen for anyone interested in the history of technology and the humans who made it possible. Christine Haughney Dare-Bryan personalizes the storytelling by blending historical narrative with her father’s own involvement in the development of the Internet and sketching the diverse and sometimes divisive personalities of these modern founders. This is a deeply researched and polished production that clearly stood apart from the other entrants in our category.

Honorable Mention – Investopedia.com; The Investopedia Express with Caleb Silver
Caleb Silver starts every Investopedia podcast with an original rap on the latest news from financial markets. He won’t win a Grammy, but he does induce a grin. This podcast is packed with news and explainers on the issues that matter to investors, with each session featuring an interview with a prominent investor or policymaker. It’s a lot of value per listen.


Real Estate

Large division

Winner – The New York Times; Women in Real Estate
These stories unflinchingly exposed how the real estate industry routinely subjects female agents to harassment and assault but rarely protects or supports these women, who make up two-thirds of the profession’s workforce. Of all entries in this category, Debra Kamin’s tenacious reporting had the most demonstrable impact, prompting the resignation of the president of the National Association of Realtors and early retirement for the organization’s CEO and head of human resources. Her subsequent story exposing how male employees drugged and assaulted women triggered a drop in the company’s stock on the day the story was published. Her reporting is textbook accountability journalism.

Honorable Mention – The Wall Street Journal; The Commercial Real-Estate Crisis and Its Fallout
The effort and skill displayed throughout this entry is extraordinary, as the Journal brought unique perspective to the commercial real-estate crisis by scraping, synthesizing, and analyzing data from sources ranging from SEC forms to banks’ reports filed to the FDIC to commercial foreclosure notices in print newspapers. WSJ reporters found investors who lost their life savings to risky apartment-building syndicates, exposed regional banks’ vulnerability to downtown “doom loops,” and uncovered a troubling surge in mezzanine-loan foreclosures. Several entrants tackled the crisis in commercial real estate. The WSJ did a better job of digging into the how and why.

Honorable Mention – Bloomberg News; Zombie Towers and the Debt Threat
The flight from downtown offices and its potential impact on financial markets is one of the biggest business stories of our time, and this package nails it. Reporting out of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Stockholm and Hong Kong demonstrates Bloomberg’s deep resources and the reporters’ knowledge of their turf. The series meticulously documents the plunge in occupancy rates while explaining how the consequences will unfold for years to come. Bloomberg incorporated many creative illustrations and informative, reader-friendly graphics to make a complex topic more accessible to its readers.

Medium division

Winner – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Left to Rot: The City of Pittsburgh’s Wasteland of Unsafe, Abandoned Homes
Through impressive reporting, data analysis and data visualizations, this eye-opening investigation reveals that the biggest slum landlord in Pittsburgh, abandoning more than 13,000 homes, is the neglectful city itself. The strong work by reporters Michael KoIsh and Neena Hagen led to quick action by city and state officials to begin addressing the problem.

Honorable Mention – A collaboration of Capital & Main and ProPublica; Checked Out: How L.A. Failed to Stop Landlords from Turning Low-Cost Housing into Tourist Hotels
This dogged investigation with stunning photos and poignant interviews found many Los Angeles residential hotels seemingly skirted the law, keeping hundreds of people out of much-needed, affordable rental housing. The series by Robin Urevich and Gabriel Sandoval led Los Angeles officials to cite 21 hotels for law violations. Their work could also result in about 750 being converted into much-needed, low-cost housing.

Small division

Winner – The Real Deal; Recipe for Fraud: Inside South Florida’s Under-regulated HOAs
Lidia Dinkova and Katherine Kallergis shed light onto Florida’s powerful and pervasive homeowners’ associations, which are ripe for fraud in part because of shortcomings in HOA laws. The reporters spent a year covering important legal and legislative angles to the story. Florida eventually enacted legislation to protect communities, although Dinkova and Kallergis’s clear reporting shows the law lacks any real teeth. The story is important for millions of Florida homeowners and for millions of other property owners across the U.S. who struggle to understand the complex nuances of HOAs and the laws around them. The story is an example of business journalism that makes a difference.

Honorable Mention – Capital & Main; In Los Angeles, a Friendship Grows Out of Housing Strife
Jack Ross wrote an excellent, in-depth piece that brings together with vibrant examples the shifting sociodynamics of neighborhood gentrification, the economic realities of immigrants, and an ever-widening wealth gap. Ross told the stories of real people, writing comprehensively about gentrification, which can be a difficult topic to report on.


Retail

Large division

Winner – The Wall Street Journal; Estee Lauder’s Succession Rift
This is a masterwork that gave readers a comprehensive inside look at a secretive family on a subject they never, ever talk about publicly. It also served as an examination of the rise and (perhaps) fall of an American corporate institution. Incredible reporting. Deeply reported, deeply sourced…and doggedly pursued…a story about a corporate institution that unmasked what was never said publicly–this is journalism combining data and detail with a definitive tale that allowed listener engagement.

Medium division

Winner – Barron’s; Retail on the Front Lines
Strong reporting highlighting national trends across the retail industry. The Dollar General story was especially good—it involved a lot of research, was well-sourced and is an issue of widespread interest. Dollar General has an enormous (and growing) number of store locations. The other two stories cover equally important labor issues in retail.

Honorable Mention – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; The Fall of the Century
This entry contained good stories that are of high interest to readers. Thorough reporting connecting a local story to the broader issue of malls closing and uncovering the Pittsburgh mall owner’s history of deceptive practices around the country. 

Small division

Winner – Rest of World; China: the world’s shopping cart
Thoroughly reported and insightfully written series about China’s emergence as a force in online retailing. The shift speaks volumes about consumers and shows “the lowest price always wins” is disturbingly true. A documentary included in this entry told a compelling tale about how this shift played out across Southeast Asia.

Honorable Mention – Capital & Main; Striking Back
Retailing has become a flash point for labor-management issues since the pandemic. These articles highlight how workers have flexed their muscles and employees have pushed back. The stories are consistently well edited and to the point.


Small Business

Large and Medium divisions

Winner – Fortune Magazine; Chief, the $5,800-per-year women’s networking startup, is worth $1 billion and has a waiting list of 60,000. Some members say the club isn’t living up to the hype
Balanced, memorable, detailed telling of a startup networking venture that paid the price of growing too fast and delivering too little.

Small division

Winner – Appleton Post-Crescent; Union Star’s Recovery
Post Crescent reporters Katie Macek and Rebecca Loroff expertly tell this wrenching saga of a historic family business that survives the murder of its owners when their adult son finds the courage to carry on. The story is deeply reported and lovingly told, painting a picture of a tight-knit community and the cheese-making factory that sits at its economic heart. The stunning photography, including poignant family photos, also help tell a tale that is simultaneously tragic and uplifting.


Student Journalism

Stories for professional media outlets

Winner – Southern Methodist University; Elizabeth Guevara for The Dallas Morning News
The piece on student loan repayments was well done. It featured the compelling stories of three student loan recipients and did an exceptional job of humanizing an issue that impacts the vast majority of post-secondary students. The other two business profiles included interviews with employees and customers, which often aren’t included in such stories.

Honorable Mention – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; The Color of Wealth for Triangle Business Journal
This story does a fine job of using data coupled with interviews with real people to tell a fascinating story about demographic change.

Stories for student media outlets

Winner – Cronkite News at ASU; Soured on Sugar: Haitian workers fuel Dominican sugar industry, at great cost.
These stories tell, in rich detail, the plight of Haitian migrants working for the Central Romana Corp. They include moving tales of workers being exploited coupled with contextual comments from experts. Readers come away from these pieces wanting to make sure they aren’t consuming sugar from Central Romana.


Technology

Large division

Winner – Reuters; US-China Tech War
This was a massive undertaking executed perfectly. Reuters reporters expertly explained fundamental yet often-unseen parts of digital technology and why it all matters with a variety of engaging storytelling formats. Strong graphics complemented deep reporting, especially on quantum security, to provide readers with a total package that lays bare the challenges facing global economies and some of the key technology at the heart of it all.

Honorable Mention – Bloomberg News; Huawei’s Breakthrough
An impressive scoop that shows the great lengths journalists go to in order to tell important stories with global security implications. It showed a willingness by both reporters and the publication to go above and beyond just reporting what others have said on the topic. To actually get your hands in the mud is commendable. The undertaking left readers with deeper knowledge of how our daily tech is woven with international intrigue.

Medium division

Winner – Forbes Magazine; The AI Founder Taking Credit for Stable Diffusion’s Success Has a History of Exaggeration
Forbes’ coverage of Stability AI is textbook journalism. The stories unearthed compelling evidence that peeled away the razzle-dazzle around a hotly sought-after start-up, providing a healthy dosage of skepticism to the investment hype on generative AI. Through meticulous reporting and source-building, the article sheds light on the discrepancies between the public narrative promoted by a rising startup founder and what actually happened. It also brought to attention the lack of investor due diligence in the AI investment frenzy.

Honorable Mention – The Guardian; ‘There is no standard’: investigation finds AI algorithms objectify women’s bodies
This impactful investigation exposes a dangerous blind spot in AI technology, as it reveals how algorithms disproportionately objectify women’s bodies through meticulous testing and compelling storytelling. Weaving impactful personal stories of individuals and businesses unfairly impacted by this bias, the story showcases the tangible consequences of unchecked algorithmic bias. As AI technology becomes more pervasive, we need journalism like this to remind us how it could reinforce biases and prejudices deep-rooted in our society.

Small division

Winner – Triangle Business Journal; Ohnesorge tech coverage
Senior Reporter Lauren Ohnesorge’s coverage of the local business community includes deep enterprise and smart accountability work. In a profile of the 80-year-old leader of the SAS Institute, she offers a skeptical view of the tech giants planned IPO and puts its competitive pressures into perspective. The graphics helped elevate the story and showcased the deep reporting.  Stories on a surprise tax bill facing some small businesses was a smart approach to a large issue. By zeroing in on a few companies, the potential fallout was made more relatable.

Honorable Mention – The Story Exchange; As Anxiety Rates Soar, More Startups Promise a Way to Chill
The judges appreciated the tone of the story, which was lively and featured original interviews with interesting founders and scientists. The article also tackled a new topic. There have been many stories about software solutions for anxiety. This piece detailed fascinating and unusual hardware inventions instead.


The Business of Sports

Large division

Winner – CNBC; Inside Track: The Business of Formula 1
A really beautifully produced documentary that was disciplined in the way it balanced fans against the financials. The judges liked the organization and the way it allowed them to build understanding of the sport. At 43+ minutes it was surprisingly taut — conveying the tension of the racing, the investment, the audience development, and the team and league dynamics.

Medium division 

Winner – The Philadelphia Inquirer; Sixers propose building a new arena in downtown Philadelphia
A richly detailed account of an urban redevelopment battle that pits big-money sports interests against a local community and rival big-money sports organization. The author also sets this well against the background of similar developments around the country. Exceptionally well-reported. 

Small division

Winner – Denver Business Journal; Prime Investment: Inside CU Boulder’s big gamble on Deion Sanders
This was the clear class of the sports business category. A classic case of following the money to discover the impact of the University of Colorado’s hiring of Deion Sanders as its head football coach. It dug deep into real numbers without resorting to inflated economic impact estimates, down to how it benefitted Sanders’ son, who came to CU with his father to play quarterback. The package made excellent use of graphics to show the money trail and keep numbers from bogging down the prose.


Travel/Transportation

Large division

Winner – The New York Times; Flight Risks
The New York Times delved into the increasing risks occurring within the commercial airline industry, with more near misses between aircraft that were seconds away from proving deadly. With careful, deep reporting, the NYT explained how the nation’s air industry arrived at this point: underinvestment in air traffic controllers and technology. An especially eye-opening piece was their coverage of the impact on air controllers, including one who admitted he had nodded off during his overnight shifts and FAA data reporting use of drugs and alcohol while on the job. The judges felt the series presented excellent and incisive reporting on the deeper causes of the nation’s fraying air safety, an issue that impacts millions of Americans who fly each day, while also uncovering an alarming and underreported angle of the impact on air traffic controllers.

Honorable Mention – The Washington Post; Tesla Troubles
The Washington Post’s series on Tesla’s safety issues raises troubling questions about the company’s development of its Autopilot technology, as well as the lack of government oversight and consumer protections for Tesla owners, passengers, pedestrians and other drivers. The judges also felt that the graphics and reconstruction of Jeremy Banner’s crash were innovative and illuminating, highlighting the split-second decisions that led to his Tesla’s deadly impact with a truck. Their reporting clearly demonstrated how Tesla could make simple changes to its technology that would have saved lives and underscored that the company’s philosophy of driver responsibility fails to account for the impact on other drivers and bystanders injured in Autopilot crashes.

Medium division

Winner – The Philadelphia Inquirer; Thomas Fitzgerald: Transportation Reporter
This trio of reports by Thomas Fitzgerald represents the pinnacle of local transportation journalism. Through his insightful coverage on the harassment of SEPTA drivers, the transportation authority’s modernization initiatives, and the aftermath of the I-95 collapse, Fitzgerald offers a compelling glimpse into the deteriorating state of the metropolitan area’s infrastructure. His work weaves real-life narratives with rigorous accountability reporting, exposing the challenges faced by the community and highlighting the government’s role in addressing these critical issues. 

Honorable Mention – Portland Press Herald; Freight railroads police themselves and inspect their own tracks. Some say a disaster is inevitable.
Kay Neufeld’s story about the policing of freight railroads earned our honorable mention for its comprehensive and forward-looking approach to a critical issue affecting public safety and infrastructure. It’s especially impressive for a piece of local reporting: taking a story from elsewhere (East Palestine, Indiana) and probing the question of whether a similar disaster could happen in Maine. It’s full of deep reporting and smart storytelling, the kind of journalism that’s a boon to audiences near and far.

Small division

Winner – The Information; Convoy Goes Off the Road
The judges have chosen The Information’s “Convoy Goes Off Road” as the winner in the travel/transportation category. The package of scoop and analysis showed a deep understanding of the logistics industry as well as the risks inherent when the tech industry attempts to disrupt legacy businesses with cutting-edge tech.

The Information was well-prepared for Convoy’s demise. It not only broke news on the company’s attempt to find a buyer but was able to quickly turn around a deep dive on the topic while the story was still fresh. The articles themselves were clear and well written, with a pleasing layout and helpful graphics.

The reporters were also able to put this company’s struggles into the broader context of a pandemic-driven boom in e-commerce that saw billions of dollars invested in the sector and adjacent industries.

These stories were also followed by major media outlets, including the WSJ, underscoring how The Information was a step ahead of its competitors in spotting, breaking and explaining an important business story.


Video

Large division

Winner – The Wall Street Journal; Shadow Men: Inside Wagner, Russia’s Secret War Company
This standout documentary peels back the cover of the secretive Wagner group led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, tracking its expansion from a Russian paramilitary operation into an extensive network of businesses with global reach, including the destabilizing exploitation of natural resources in Syria and Africa. The WSJ team uncovered dozens of shell companies employed by Wagner to funnel millions of dollars to and from the Kremlin, using government and corporate databases, leaked documents, satellite photos, social media posts, and exclusive interviews with current and former Wagner fighters as well as victims of the brutal enterprise. The eye-opening expose of the group’s involvement in Ukraine and abroad had real-world impact: Days after Wagner’s failed insurrection against Russia less than a month after the film was released, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned several of the companies exposed in the documentary.

Medium and small divisions

Winner – The Story Exchange; As Great Salt Lake Dries, Dust is New Danger
This video did a splendid job of reporting and explaining an important and interesting story: A sharp decline in the level of the Great Salt Lake and the impact on air quality. This isn’t a new subject.  Many viewers probably have read or heard about the basics elsewhere. But The Story Exchange laid out the story in less than eight minutes in a clear, succinct and engaging way, backed by solid sourcing and excellent video production. It also included helpful background, context and perspective to help viewers understand the story and its significance.

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