Observer foreclosure series awarded Loeb

The Observer's “Sold A Nightmare” series has won a 2008 Gerald Loeb Award, one of the highest honors in business journalism.

The series, which ran throughout 2007, detailed the sales practices that contributed to housing foreclosures in the area and led to federal investigations of Beazer Homes USA, one of the nation's largest homebuilders.

The awards are presented by the UCLA Anderson School of Management; “Sold A Nightmare” was named best work among medium newspapers (150,000 to 350,000 circulation) Monday night in New York.

“The reporters were able to vividly depict how the subprime mortgage debacle came to be, uncovering Beazer's bad lending practices and duplicitous incentives which led to rampant foreclosures nationwide,” a news release on the award notes.

Reporters Binyamin Appelbaum, Lisa Hammersly, Ted Mellnik, Peter St. Onge, Stella M. Hopkins, Liz Chandler, Pam Kelley and Mike Drummond, and editors Gary Schwab and Patrick Scott contributed to the series.

“Sold A Nightmare” has earned numerous accolades, including from the Pulitzer Prize board, which named the series a finalist for the 2008 Gold Medal For Public Service. It has also received the George Polk Award for Economics Reporting and honors from the N.C. Press Association, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and the National Association of Real Estate Writers.

Other Loeb award winners across 13 categories included entries from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fortune magazine and the (Charleston) Post & Courier. JEN ARONOFF