A podcast series on abuse at Utah’s homes for troubled teens produced by a multiple-media team of journalists and the Minnesota StarTribune’s revelations of court-aided exploitation of accident victims have taken top honors in the 16th Annual Barlett & Steele Awards for the Best in Investigative Business Journalism.
The Barlett & Steele Awards are administered by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The awards are named for the illustrious investigative business journalist team of Don Barlett and Jim Steele, who have worked together for more than four decades, receiving two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Magazine awards and a long list of other journalism awards.
“This year’s winners are in the finest tradition of what these awards have come to represent — great reporting, fine writing and expert data analysis,” Steele said. “The winners are a testament to the value of in-depth reporting and how it benefits the public.”
The inaugural award for Outstanding Young Journalist was claimed by Neil Bedi of ProPublica for an investigation into faulty mechanical heart pumps.
In addition to the first-ever Young Journalist award, this year marks the first time the Barlett & Steele Awards have recognized publications across two categories — Global/National and Regional/Local — to honor more of the outstanding business journalism being produced throughout the U.S.
Each category features a gold, silver and bronze award. These awards come with cash prizes of $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 respectively. The Young Journalist award features a cash prize of $3,000.
The cold award in the Global/National category was won by a collaboration among American Public Media, Salt Lake Tribune and KUER public radio, for their investigative work into the Utah government’s lackluster oversight of facilities housing troubled teenagers, resulting in widespread abuse. Their work resulted in a seven-part podcast series titled “Sent Away.”
Rounding out the Global/National category, the silver award went to the Wall Street Journal for its investigation into federal judges’ hidden conflicts of interest. The bronze was awarded to a team of reporters from Bloomberg for their revelations about questionable practices at a telemedicine startup.
In the Regional/Local category, the StarTribune won the gold award for documenting how accident victims in several states were convinced to transfer their court-ordered compensation to other parties for a fraction of its value. In one case, the StarTribune said, a mentally impaired car accident victim sold more than half a million dollars in future payments for $12,001.
The silver award in the Regional/Local category went to a duo from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a series on dangerous dwellings, while a team of reporters from the Palm Beach Post and ProPublica won the bronze award for documenting harmful pollution by the sugar industry.
“This addition of more awards this year has allowed us to recognize more groundbreaking investigative business journalism in the U.S.," said Jeffrey Timmermans, director of the Reynolds Center. "While the industry continues to face many challenges, the fact that there is so much outstanding work being done at news organizations throughout the country — from Utah to Florida — is cause for optimism.”
View more about the winners at businessjournalism.org.
The Reynolds Center will spotlight the recipients of the top prizes at an event at 6 p.m., Arizona time, on Nov. 9 in the First Amendment Forum at the Cronkite School in Downtown Phoenix. Check out the Reynolds Center event page for updates on the live event.
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