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Observer hospital series wins National Headliner award

An investigative series on North Carolina’s nonprofit hospitals by The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer of Raleigh has won a National Headliner Award.

“Prognosis: Profits,” a 2012 series jointly produced by the newspapers, won a second-place award in the investigative reporting category, the Press Club of Atlantic City announced Friday. First place went to the Chicago Tribune for a series exposing how manufacturers have endangered public health by using toxic fire retardants in household furniture and crib mattresses.

The Observer series explored large profits at nonprofit hospitals, highlighted huge salaries for some executives and reported on efforts by the hospitals to sue uninsured patients delinquent on their bills. 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 have driven up the cost of care.

The series has won a number of other national awards, including the Local Accountability Reporting Award from the American Society of News Editors; the Bronze Medal in the Barlett and Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism and an investigative reporting award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Earlier this week, it was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Founded by the Press Club of Atlantic City, the National Headliner Awards program is one of the nation’s oldest and largest journalism contests.

The News & Observer’s reporting on academic and athletic scandals at UNC Chapel Hill also won first place in the contest’s education writing category.

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