'Miami Herald' Takes the Gold at Barlett & Steele Awards for Business Journalism

By: E&P Staff The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism announced Wednesday that The Miami Herald has received the gold award and Bloomberg Markets magazine took the silver in the third annual Barlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism.

A nine-month investigation and resulting series, ?Borrowers Betrayed? by Jack Dolan, Matthew Haggman and Rob Barry of the Miami Herald earned the top gold award of $5,000. Starting with the tragic case of a single mother who lost her home because of a crooked broker, the paper?s reports 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. Ultimately, it toppled 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. ?It found a staggering degree of nonfeasance on the part of the state, bringing perpetrators to life and showing the human impact of misdeeds."

Through public documents and scores of interviews, ?AARP's Stealth Fees? by Gary Cohn and Darrel Preston of Bloomberg Markets received the silver award of $2,000. The two reporters found that the world's biggest organization for seniors collects hundreds of millions of dollars annually from insurers who pay for AARP's endorsement of their policies. In turn, the insurance companies build this cost into the premiums they charge AARP members. In addition, AARP sometimes also holds client insurance premiums as long as a month and invests the money, Cohn and Preston discovered.

Honorable mentions in this year's awards included ABA Journal for "The Curious Case of Alex Latifi" by Linda Edwards; The Seattle Times, for "Culture of Resistance" by Michael Berens and Ken Armstrong; and The Wall Street Journal for "USA Inc." 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," Andrew Leckey, president of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism (which conducts the awards), said in a statement.

The awards will be bestowed during a ceremony on Jan. 6, 2010, during "Reynolds Business Journalism Week" at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. Check out this year's winning stories and more coverage here.

The Barlett & Steele Awards were named for the famed investigative team of Donald Barlett and James Steele, and first conferred in the fall of 2007 to celebrate the best in print and online investigative business journalism. They are conducted by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, which is funded by the Las Vegas-based nonprofit Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.


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