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2010 Barlett & Steele Award winners

October 5, 2010

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Reuters received the gold award and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the silver award in the fourth annual Barlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism, the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism announced today.

GOLD AWARD: “Diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Dropped by Insurer” by Murray Waas of Reuters received the top gold award of $5,000. A four-month investigation revealed that a giant health insurer had targeted policyholders recently diagnosed with breast cancer for aggressive investigations with the intent to cancel their policies. An exhaustive study of records, hearings and federal data, as well as dozens of interviews with experts, officials and patients led to the story.

“Reuters contrasted the upfront public stance of a health care company and its CEO to the reality behind the scenes, revealing the insidiousness of gatekeeping by software,” said the judges.  “This investigation led to government pressure and an industrywide change in the practice of dropping health care coverage for patients after they became sick.”

SILVER AWARD: “Side Effects: Money, Medicine and Patients” by John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel received the silver award of $2,000.

Side effects logo Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel series uncovered conflicts of interest and led to sweeping industry changes.

The stories uncovered conflicts of interest that can compromise a doctor’s judgment. An example was a surgeon receiving millions of dollars in royalties annually from a medical device company while serving as editor of a medical journal that published favorable research on the company’s projects.

Here are links to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel stories:

“The Journal Sentinel by revealing interwoven ties between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry prompted an inquiry by a U.S. Senate committee and led to sweeping changes at a major university school of medicine,” said the judges, noting that the reporter pored over thousands of pages of medical literature, coursework and documents obtained through open records laws.

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

McClatchy Newspapers
“Goldman Sachs and the Housing Crash” by Greg Gordon, Kevin Hall and Chris Adams

Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Hounded: Debtors and the New Breed of Collectors” by Chris Serres and Glenn Howatt

Philadelphia Inquirer
“Inside the Health-Care Crucible: Reports from a Hospital in a Time of Upheaval” by Michael Vitez

USA Today
“The Credit Trap” by Kathy Chu

“This was the strongest group of award entries the judges have encountered and clear indication that investigative business journalism is alive and well,” said Andrew Leckey, president of the Reynolds Center, which funds the awards. “Even though health care has been the subject of prolonged national debate, our award winners were able to tell us something we didn’t know.”

Barlett & Steele Awards distinguished panel of judges:
Myron Kandel was the founding financial editor of CNN.
Steve Koepp is the former executive editor of Fortune magazine.
Laurie Hays is the executive editor for company news at Bloomberg News.

Named for the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning investigative business journalist team of Don Barlett and Jim Steele, these awards, funded by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, celebrate the best in print and online investigative business journalism. The annual awards were first given out in fall 2007, and feature a Gold award of $5,000 and a Silver prize of $2,000.

The Reynolds Center is based at ASU. It is funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, which is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.

More than 10,000 journalists have benefited from the Reynolds Center’s free training since 2003. The center’s mission is to help journalists cover business better.

For further information, contact: Andrew Leckey, president, Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, 602-496-9186 or andrew.leckey@businessjournalism.org.


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