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Miami Herald, Bloomberg receive ’09 Barlett & Steele

The Miami Herald received the gold award and Bloomberg Markets magazine the silver award in the 2009 Barlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism, the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism.

“Borrowers Betrayed” by Jack Dolan, Matthew Haggman and Rob Barry of The Miami Herald received the top gold award of $5,000 in this third annual award.

miamiheraldA nine-month investigation and resulting series uncovered poor oversight by Florida mortgage regulators that permitted thousands of individuals with criminal records to conduct business in the state’s home loan industry. Starting with the tragic case of a single mother who lost her home because of a crooked broker, the Herald expanded its probe to ultimately topple one of Florida’s most powerful commissioners.

“The Herald really nailed this investigation, uncovering a unique angle on the theme of the year,” the judges said in their assessment of the work. “It found a staggering degree of nonfeasance on the part of the state, bringing perpetrators to life and showing the human impact of misdeeds.”

For more details on the series and to get tips from the reporters to improve your investigative coverage, check out this recent blog from our Rosland Gammon.

“AARP’s Stealth Fees”
by Gary Cohn and Darrell Preston of Bloomberg Markets received the silver award of $2,000.

Through public documents and scores of interviews, reporters found that the world’s largest organization for seniors collects hundreds of millions of dollars annually from insurers who pay for AARP’s endorsement of their policies. The insurance companies build this cost into premiums they charge AARP members. AARP sometimes also holds client insurance premiums as long as a month and invests the money, the reporters found.AARPbloomberg

“Beginning with a complaint by an individual AARP member, Bloomberg Markets goes on to surprise the reader with a number of revelations about an organization whose conduct and organizational lifestyle had previously been taken for granted,” the judges said.

Honorable mentions in this year’s awards are, in alphabetical order:

• ABA Journal for “The Curious Case of Alex Latifi” by Lynda Edwards;

• The Seattle Times for “Culture of Resistance” by Michael Berens and Ken Armstrong;

• The Wall Street Journal for “USA Inc.” (part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4) by Dan Fitzpatrick, Susanne Craig, Deborah Solomon, Kate Kelly, Jon Hilsenrath, Susan Pulliam and Tom McGinty.

“In a difficult year for the media, we were delighted to receive hard-hitting stories with surprising revelations about business in its many forms,” said Andrew Leckey, president of the Reynolds Center, which funds the awards. “The heart of the investigative journalist beats loudly in these well-researched, forcefully presented stories, and we commend both the publications and the journalists.”

The Barlett & Steele Awards, named for the famed investigative team of Donald Barlett and James Steele, were first conferred in the fall of 2007 to celebrate the best in print and online investigative business journalism. Awards are conferred at a ceremony every January during ‘Reynolds Business Journalism Week’ at the Cronkite School.

Take a look at the winners from 2007, 2008.

About the Author

The Reynolds Center, created through generous grants from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation of Las Vegas and operated by ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is dedicated to improving the quality of business and economics coverage through training programs for business reporters and editors.

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