2016 Award Recipient
2016: Asbury Park Press
The 2016 Excellence in Economic Reporting Award was awarded to Asbury Park Press for their game changing series “The Property Tax Crisis.” The multi-part investigation into state and local property tax policy and spending practices fundamentally altered the tax discussion in the New Jersey State Legislature and directly spurred much needed change for New Jersey citizens by encouraging electoral activism and government accountability.
2015: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The Center for Public Integrity
During 2014, “Offshore Secrets” rocked two of the modern world’s great powers—China and the European Union—as well as one of its ancient monarchies, Luxembourg. This and earlier reporting prompted criminal and civil inquiries on four continents, including in the U.S., and helped bring new laws or policy changes in 52 countries. The disclosures illuminated new scenes in the panorama of harms caused by secret offshore financial practices that allow wealthy companies and individuals to hide money and avoid taxes at the expense of national treasuries and average taxpayers.
2014: Bloomberg News Service
A Bloomberg team of reporters wrote a seven-part series on the brave new world of “Big Data” software services. Lead reporter Aki Ito along with reporters Jeff Kearns, Craig Torres and Ilan Kolet explored how technology is transforming the economy, bringing about changes in hiring, spending and investment decisions-even the efficacy of Federal Reserve policy. Read their series online.
2013: Bloomberg News Service, “America’s Great State Payroll Giveaway”
Their series exposed runaway state payrolls and the harm these abuses are having on state budgets and the quality of services taxpayers are funding. The six-part series, titled “America’s Great State Payroll Giveaway,” gathered 1.4 million compensation records for every state employee in the 12 most populous states. Their investigation uncovered huge windfalls to public employees at the expense of taxpayers.
2012: Lou Kilzer, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “The China Syndrome”
In his yearlong series, Kilzer explored how Chinese companies have become the dragon of today’s global market. His detailed reporting included the following: Chinese companies are using Cayman Island registrations and bankrupt shell companies to gain a presence in the American market. Companies like Apple, Motorola, and Westinghouse risk losing technology secrets when communist government officials insist they share propriety information. How when Chinese IPO’s and start-ups crash and burn, American investors are too often left holding the bag, with no legal means of going after the perpetrators because of Chinese law. And how China is tightening control over 97% of the world’s rare earth minerals and gaining control over vast amounts of American natural gas and oil.
2011: Ronald Campbell, The Orange County Register, “A State Powered by Immigrants”
Campbell’s series reported that California’s 9.8 million immigrants now provide a third of all workers and that 18%, of those immigrants are illegal. The series highlighted how California’s middle and upper class have become addicted to low-wage immigrant help while poorly-educated native workers who might have taken these jobs at higher pay are suffering.
2010: Kathy Chu, USA TODAY, “The Credit Trap”
Chu’s 11-part investigative series exposed the punitive fees and credit downgrades inflicted routinely on credit card and checking account holders by U.S. banks and credit unions, triggering pending legislation in Congress to curb bank overdraft excesses. Chu’s series exposed how U.S. banks perfected procedures for imposing cascades of penalties on checking account overdrafts. Her investigation further unearthed how these fines had grown into the banks’ single largest source of consumer profits – with the fees falling heavily on lower income families living paycheck to paycheck.
2009: Team of 15 Reporters, The Wall Street Journal, “The Financial Crisis: The Weekend That Wall Street Died”
A talented corps of 15 reporters at the Wall Street Journal won the Institute on Political Journalism’s prestigious Excellence in Economic Reporting Award for 2009. Their 10 articles described the turning points to last fall’s Wall Street crash and the ensuing global credit crunch. This annual award normally goes to an individual or small group of reporters who craft a specific series of articles demonstrating the working of one area of business and markets. However the judges found that the scope and drama of the credit crisis warranted the small army of reporters that was deployed by the Journal editors. “Their coverage was detailed, dramatic, precise and contained too many revelations to count,” said Rich Thomas, retired Newsweek reporter, who chaired the judges panel. The other judges were Mike Ruby, former editor of U.S. News and World Report, and John Merline, former Washington Bureau Chief of Investor’s Business Daily and USA Today editorial writer. Reporters authoring or co-authoring one or more of the articles were Kara Scannell, Susanne Craig, Carrick Mollenkamp, Serena Ng, Aaron Lucchetti, Deborah Solomon, Dennis K. Berman, Jon Hilsenrath, Damian Paletta, Mark Whitehouse, Ianthe Jeanne Dugan, E.S. Browning, David Enrich, Jeffrey McCracken, and Kate Kelly.
2008: Becky Mowbray, The Times-Picayune, “National Flood Insurance Program”
This hard hitting series exposed insurance fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Mowbray discovered that Allstate and a number of other insurance companies exploited an emergency edict of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to—legally—defraud the government. In order to hasten payments, FEMA deputized the insurance companies to determine the liabilities of the National Flood Insurance Program while they were settling their own wind damage claims. The insurance companies, Mowbray’s article proved, dumped hundreds of millions of what might have been their own liabilities onto the books of the Federal government. This series was wonderfully researched and written and helped force the Federal Government to revise its own procedures to prevent another private raid on the public treasury in future disasters.
2008 Honorable Mention: Gregory Korte and Alexander Coolidge, The Cincinnati Enquirer, “Foreclosure Fallout”
2007: Steve Everly, The Kansas City Star, “It’s hot fuel for you, cold cash for big oil”
Everly’s series revealed how the oil industry has made millions in undeserved profits while shortchanging American motorists at the gas pump with the widespread use of “hot gas.” Because of Everly’s work, the country’s weights and measures regulators agreed to support changing the way gas is sold and measured across America.
2007 Honorable Mentions: Jeff Kelly Lowenstein and Sarah Karp, The Chicago Reporter, “The 10 Billion Hole”
and Clive Thompson, The New York Times, “Google’s China Problem (and China’s Google Problem)”
2006: Pete Engardio, Manjeet Kriplanani, Dexter Roberts, Brian Bremner, Steve Hamm, Bruce Einhorn & Frederik Balfour, BusinessWeek, “China & India: What you Need to Know Now”
The winning series takes readers deep inside India’s software and China’s manufacturing booms, providing a comprehensive picture of Asia’s biggest and latest economic miracles.
2005: Alwyn Scott, Brier Dudley and Jake Batsell, The Seattle Times, “Shifting Fortunes: Pain and Gain in the Global Community”
Alwyn Scott and Brier Dudley of The Seattle Times wrote an outstanding series which showed the impact of globalization in the Washington State economy, from fruit and vegetable growing and canning to technological innovation and piracy on to high tech software — Microsoft Hyderabad vs. Microsoft Redmond.
2005 Runner up: John Schmid, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Still Separate and Unequal: A Dream Derailed”
This was a three part series showing how decline of domestic machine tool, steel processing, automotive, brewery, tannery and other blue color industries since 1970 has had devastating impact on Milwaukee inner city blacks. The piece shows this is in part an outcome of competition out of Asia. Series makes dazzling use of statistical analysis to show the cause and effects. Milwaukee blacks go from family incomes 19% above U.S. median for black families in 1970 to 23% below the median. Outlines devastating divorce, health, even longevity consequences – homicide rate 2.5 times that of New York. Then the series documents and outlines the current efforts of a younger generation of largely black leadership organize a free enterprise-led recovery for the city.
2004: John Schmid and Rick Romell, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Made in China: The New Industrial Revolution”
Schmid and Romell’s piece focuses on China’s rapid transformation into a global industrial power, the harsh impact it is having on American workers and the mutual dependency that binds the world’s premier economic superpower with its emerging rival in Asia. Each of the main stories related people and companies in China with counterparts in Wisconsin and the Midwest. Additional stories amplified how other forces — intense Wall Street pressure, voracious American consumerism — accelerate the mutual revolutions taking place. The series closed with a groundbreaking report on China’s investment in advanced education, and its partnership with U.S.-based companies in developing the “knowledge workers” of tomorrow. For Wisconsin, where manufacturing is a pillar of the state economy, the story is global and local at the same time. At stake are the lives of those who make things for a living, and the families and communities that depend on them.
2003: Dale Kasler (Business Writer) and Stuart Leavenworth (Environmental Writer), The Sacramento Bee, “Liquid Assets”
When water officials cut the amount of Colorado River water being diverted to southern California farms and cities, Bee writers, Dale Kasler and Stuart Leavenworth set out to show readers that the relationship between two traditional water enemies, farmers and cities, was undergoing a signal shift. Low crop prices had forced farmers to re-think the way they looked at water: Some of the most subsidized businessmen in the nation discovered they could make more money selling water than crops. As the debate intensified, it became clear that farmers were fast losing the upper hand. After a year long investigation, “Liquid Assets” laid out the economics, environment and egos at work in shaping the state’s water market.
2002: Michael J. Mandel, Economics Editor, Business Week, “Teach Lead-Both Up and Down”
This entry was a series of articles focusing on the vulnerabilities of the New Economy. Mandel’s comprehensive coverage of the slide from boom to bust offered readers news value, clarity of writing, and cutting edge analysis not available elsewhere. Despite sunny forecasts at the time, Mandel showed that global growth was in danger on several fronts, including high oil prices, economic weakness in Europe and Asia and instability in the global financial system. In his December 18 story, “Teach Lead-Both Up and Down,” he showed how the slowdown in the technology sector was going to be the key factor determining the severity of the decline, and provide an original historical perspective to help readers understand the nature of the downturn.
2001: Susan Lee, Member, Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal
Throughout the election year 2000, Ph.D. economist Susan Lee analyzed the economic issues that were staples of the Presidential campaign, such as tax cuts and Social Security reform. On each issue, Lee cut through the jargon and the political rhetoric to examine what the candidates were proposing from an economic point of view. Her clear analysis focused on whether or not the policy made sense from an economic point of view, what empirical data revealed about the policy, and how political considerations influenced the proposal. With a clear and often witty writing style, Lee’s cogent economic analysis backed up by real data shed light on important policy proposals.