The News & Observer’s hospital series is Pulitzer Prize finalist

A series jointly produced by The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer about the state’s profitable nonprofit hospitals was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in local reporting announced Monday.

“Prognosis: Profits” highlighted huge salaries for some executives 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 stories revealed large profits on cancer drugs and showed how hospitals’ acquisitions of doctor practices have driven up the cost of care.

N&O investigative reporter Joseph Neff and database editor David Raynor worked on the series, which was edited in Raleigh by senior editor Steve Riley. In Charlotte, investigative reporter Ames Alexander and medical reporter Karen Garloch reported and wrote the stories, which were edited by senior editor Jim Walser.

The winner in the category was the Minneapolis Star Tribune for reports on infant deaths in day-care homes. Also a runner-up was the Orlando Sentinel for coverage of marching band hazing rituals at Florida A&M University.

“Prognosis: Profits” has won other national awards: the Distinguished Writing Award for Local Accountability Reporting from the American Society of News Editors; the Bronze Medal in the annual Barlett and Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism; the investigative reporting award for midsize dailies from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers; and second place in investigative reporting from the Association of Health Care Journalists. The series was also a finalist for midsize dailies from Investigative Reporters and Editors and won the Public Service Award from the N.C. Press Association.

The N&O has won three previous Pulitzer Prizes: for commentary in 1983, for criticism in 1989 and for public service in 1996.