Health Care

N&O’s investigative team wins three more prizes

Mandy Locke
Mandy Locke 2009 News & Observer file photo

The News & Observer’s investigative reporting team has been honored with three more national awards, including two announced Tuesday evening.

The newspaper received two first places in the Gerald Loeb Awards, considered among the most prestigious in business journalism, at a dinner Tuesday in New York City. Two of the paper’s investigative series from 2012 were honored with a first-place tie among small and medium-sized newspapers:

• “The Ghost Workers,” a three-part series that revealed how some businesses were cheating on an array of required tax payments for employees by labeling them as contractors. The series also showed how such designations were harming injured workers, and how an inept state government was failing to regulate businesses’ behavior.

The series was reported and written by reporter Mandy Locke and database manager David Raynor.

•  “Prognosis: Profits,” a five-part series that shed light on the operations of major nonprofit hospitals. The stories revealed huge salaries for some executives, substantial cash reserves and reported on efforts by the hospitals to sue patients delinquent on their bills or to send patients who couldn’t pay to collection agencies. Follow-up articles revealed large profits on cancer drugs and showed how hospitals’ acquisitions of physicians’ practices have driven up the cost of health care.

The series was a joint effort with The Charlotte Observer. Raynor and N&O investigative reporter Joseph Neff worked on the project in Raleigh; investigative reporter Ames Alexander and medical reporter Karen Garloch were the reporters in Charlotte.

Senior editor Jim Walser edited the hospital series in Charlotte. In Raleigh, senior editor Steve Riley edited “Prognosis: Profits” and “The Ghost Workers.”

The hospital series won another national award on Friday in Washington, where it was honored with first place in investigative reporting in the top circulation category by the Society of Professional Journalists.

This added to a string of national awards captured by “Prognosis: Profits.” They include: the Distinguished Writing Award for Local Accountability Reporting from the American Society of News Editors; honorable mention from The Molly National Journalism Prize; and the Bronze Medal from the Barlett and Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism. The series was also a finalist for midsize dailies from Investigative Reporters and Editors and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in local reporting.

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