A Charlotte Observer investigative series on North Carolina’s nonprofit hospitals was honored Wednesday with a national journalism award.
“Prognosis: Profits,” a 2012 series reported and produced jointly with the News and Observer of Raleigh, won the Distinguished Writing Award for Local Accountability Reporting from the American Society of News Editors.
The series explored large profits at nonprofit hospitals, highlighted huge salaries for some executives and reported on efforts of the hospitals to sue patients delinquent on their bills or send patients who couldn’t pay to collection agencies. Follow-up stories revealed that hospitals were marking up prices on cancer drugs as much as 50 times over cost, and showed how hospitals’ acquisitions of doctors’ practices has driven up the cost of care.
Charlotte Observer investigative reporter Ames Alexander and medical reporter Karen Garloch reported and wrote the series, which was edited by senior editor Jim Walser. In Raleigh, investigative reporter Joseph Neff and database editor David Raynor reported and wrote the stories, which were edited by senior editor Steve Riley.
Judges said the series was “grounded in meticulous reporting and presented in elegant and sophisticated form. ... This is a model of newspapers holding powerful local interests accountable and has ignited efforts for reform.”
The series has won three other national awards: the Bronze Medal in the annual Barlett and Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism; the investigative reporting award for mid-sized dailies from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers; and second place in investigative reporting from the Association of Health Care Journalists.
ASNE, a nonprofit group, of newspaper and television editors and producers, promotes fair journalism, advocates for First Amendment rights, and fights for freedom of information and open government.