NEW YORK Journalists from across the nation gathered tonight at New York City’s Cipriani 42nd Street for the 2008 Gerald Loeb Awards Banquet. The Loeb Awards are among the highest honors in journalism, recognizing the work of journalists whose contributions illuminate the world of business, finance and the economy for readers and viewers around the world.
Judy D. Olian, dean of UCLA Anderson School of Management and chairman of the G. and R. Loeb Foundation, welcomed Loeb Awards honorees and their guests. Tyler Mathisen, managing editor of business news and host of “High Net Worth” for CNBC, served as the master of ceremonies.
The Loeb Awards includes two special awards for career contributions, the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was given to Daniel Hertzberg, and the Lawrence Minard Editor Award, which went to Frank J. Comes. In addition, there are 13 competition categories in which winners were named at the banquet. Following is a list of the 2008 Loeb Awards recipients along with brief synopses of their award-winning works.
Large Newspapers Winners
Walt Bogdanich, Jake Hooker, David Barboza and Andrew W. Lehren of The New York Times for “Toxic Pipeline”
This investigative series included exhaustive reporting and colorful storytelling on an important topic — how dangerous and poisonous pharmaceutical ingredients from small factories in rural China have flowed into the global market. Reported on four continents, this comprehensive series presented a compelling analysis of the “toxic pipeline” that has had a devastating, sometimes deadly, cost to humans.
Medium Newspapers Winners
Binyamin Appelbaum, Lisa Hammersly Munn, Ted Mellnik, Peter St. Onge and Liz Chandler of The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer for “Sold A Nightmare”
In this year-long series, the writers unraveled the story of the subprime mortgage crisis through the prism of Beazer Homes USA, a company that specialized in selling and helping finance homes for first-time buyers. 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.
Small Newspapers Winners
Tony Bartelme of The Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.) for “The China Effect”
As a way to depict the impact that China’s growth is having on local economies, Bartelme told the story of a Charleston, S.C. man’s desperate journey to China to have stem cells injected into his back. Reporting from southern China, Bartelme used narratives to provide a clear visual of China’s stunning economic and cultural transformation. This was an ambitious and praiseworthy effort by a small newspaper to bring the global economy home to its readers.
Allan Sloan of Fortune for “House of Junk”
Of the countless stories about the subprime crisis, this piece stood out among the rest in depth of reporting and quality of writing. By dissecting one subprime mortgage deal, Sloan said volumes in relatively few words about what happened and why. The story turned a spotlight on the underlying conflict on Wall Street, as firms sold questionable subprime debt to investors even as they were profiting by shorting similar investments.
Magazines Honorable Mention
Michael Lewis of The New York Times Magazine for “In Nature’s Casino”
Lewis took an extremely complicated subject — catastrophe and insurance — and made it not only accessible but also entertaining. He focused on one hedge fund manager’s revolutionary method of risk calculation to ensure that the costs of any large-scale disaster get absorbed by the world’s financial markets, as opposed to the insurance industry alone. In turn, Lewis illuminates the human aspect of an incredibly complex topic. A measure of the story’s impact is that Congress, as well as the governors of South Carolina, Florida, and the mayor New Orleans, invited the mentioned hedge fund manager to testify on the topic of catastrophic risk.
Joe Nocera of The New York Times for “Talking Business”
In this incisive series, Nocera raised eyebrows as he questioned how responsible some “socially responsible” investing really is. Nocera was tough on business executives and owners, examining compensation practices and showing that socially responsible investing can actually prove to be an arbitrary process. He up-ended conventional wisdom with skill and obvious relish, and truly stood out as he uncovered how economic issues intersect with human character.
Commentary Honorable Mention
Daniel Howes of The Detroit News for “Business Columnist”
In a clear, strong voice, Howes exhibited a deft ability to source at the highest levels of business and government, exposing the factors that contributed to Michigan’s decline. His columns focused on parallel stories of Detroit’s automotive restructuring and the economic challenges that dominate many facets of Michigan today. Howes was able to explain complex events in simple terms and in their historic context, cutting through the company spin to offer blunt assessments of what these events mean for Detroit.
Breaking News Winners
Jenny Anderson and Landon Thomas Jr. of The New York Times for “The Fall of E. Stanley O’Neal at Merrill Lynch”
These two reporters at The New York Times broke and kept breaking the news, providing astonishing perspective and continuous scoops on the ouster of Merrill Lynch CEO E. Stanley O’Neal. Written with authority built on tremendous sourcing, this was a fascinating case study of the downfall of a leader and simultaneously signified an historic moment on Wall Street. The Times delivered reporting, analysis and writing at breakneck speed, often reporting events before they were announced.
Breaking News Honorable Mention
Katie Merx, Tim Higgins, Tom Walsh, Mark Phelan, Susan Tompor, Sarah A. Webster,
Katherine Yung and Joe Guy Collier of the Detroit Free Press for “A New U.S. Auto Industry”
This special report was an authoritative, comprehensive examination of a key day for Michigan readers- and for an iconic American industry struggling to survive- in the pivotal labor agreement reached in the aftermath of the UAW’s strike against General Motors. Merx and her colleagues at the Detroit Free Press did a superb job of breaking the latest news, being the first in the nation to report the terms of agreement online, while also adding context to relay the broader significance of the agreement to future dealings with U.S. automakers.
Beat Writing Winners
Kate Kelly, Serena Ng, Susanne Craig and David Reilly of The Wall Street Journal for “Breakdown at Bear Stearns”
Kelly’s relentless digging into the real story behind Bear Stearns’ upheaval shed massive light on key management failings at Bear, making sense of a complicated, fast-moving story. The breadth of reporting was very impressive, with reporters gaining access to company emails and even golf records to reveal the underlying reasons for the security firm- and its CEO’s- collapse. Kelly and team dug out major news that reverberated through the financial world, triggering criminal and civil investigations that may ultimately change practices on Wall Street.
Beat Writing Honorable Mention
Charles Duhigg of The New York Times for “Golden Opportunities”
Duhigg created his own beat in a complicated and reporter-unfriendly area as he explored how how businesses and investors have reaped enormous profits by exploiting elderly Americans. Through vivid narratives and exhaustive data analysis, Duhigg’s articles described the many ways that the elderly are taken advantage of, including telemarketing fraud and near-impossible insurance payouts. The impact of Duhigg’s work has been remarkable- resulting in 13 government investigations, 6 Congressional hearings, legislative inquiries in 8 states, proposed laws, and wide-ranging industry changes.
News Services Winners
Mark Pittman, Bob Ivry and Kathleen M. Howley of Bloomberg News for “Wall Street’s Faustian Bargain”
In this five-part series, the authors got behind the scenes to dig up the origins of the toxic subprime securities market, exposing the main players who created it by persuading investors around the world to invest in high-risk, high-interest home loans. This was an exemplary package of stories that used poignant human examples to show how the subprime fiasco affected victims ranging from children whose parents lost their homes to the most powerful executives on Wall Street.
Feature Writing Winner
Charles Fishman of Fast Company for “Message in a Bottle”
Fishman took on a product that has become ubiquitous in everyday life — plastic bottles of water — and showed how wasteful this industry can actually be. At a time when so much attention is placed on protecting the environment, the story presents a thought-provoking argument about how consumers are sacrificing their ideals of a “green” society for the sake of convenience. Fishman’s work was wonderfully crafted, combining great storytelling with compelling statistics to prove a powerful point.
Art Lenehan, Anh Ly and Suzanne McGee of MSN Money for “Keeping Up With The Wangs”
A multi-faceted exploration of the rise of China’s middle class, this project utilized video, text, and interactive charts to give readers a full flavor of life in modern China. While the rising affluence of Chinese consumers is well known, this display of excellent explanatory journalism put non-Chinese readers on the scene to show how rapidly China’s middle class is changing. The pairing of a seasoned business reporter and a producer with personal connections to the story allowed for a first-person texture that enhanced and enriched the reporting.
Television Daily Winners
Steve Washington, Darren Gersh, Dana Greenspon and Sanjay Jha of PBS Nightly Business Report for “India’s Promise”
With outstanding use of visuals and a unique approach to storytelling, this four-part series explored the rise of India’s economy; providing a first-hand look at the implications of the country’s rapid development. The stories were distinctive in the way that they visualized, humanized and personalized economic stories, showing the enormity and diversity of India’s population. This was an outstanding series from Nightly Business Report that demonstrated how enterprising broadcast journalism can lead to a better understanding of international economic issues.
Television Enterprise Winners
Byron Harris, Mark Smith and Kraig Kirchem of WFAA-TV for “Money for Nothing”
This investigative series was a probe into the U.S. Export-Import bank and the millions of dollars in questionable loans that resulted in a startling waste of tax money. The WFAA-TV team’s tremendous effort paid off, with shocking revelations about the failure of the Export-Import Bank and how the government sent tax dollars to drug traffickers, enabling drugs to make their way back to the U.S.
Business Book Winner
David A. Kaplan of William Morrow for “Mine’s Bigger: Tom Perkins and the Making of the Greatest Sailing Machine Ever Built”
This tale of venture capital pioneer Tom Perkins and his quest to build the world’s greatest clipper ship was a compelling story about one of the most influential figures in the Silicon Valley. Kaplan artfully wove great reporting into his narrative, making for an entertaining, smart and powerful book.
About UCLA Anderson School of Management
UCLA Anderson School of Management, established in 1935, is regarded among the very best business schools in the world. UCLA Anderson faculty are ranked #1 in “Intellectual Capital” by BusinessWeek and are renowned for their teaching excellence and research in advancing management thinking. Each year, UCLA Anderson provides management education to more than 1,600 students enrolled in MBA, Executive MBA, Fully-Employed MBA and doctoral programs, and to more than 2,000 professional managers through executive education programs. Combining highly selective admissions, varied and innovative learning programs, and a world-wide network of 35,000 alumni, UCLA Anderson develops and prepares global leaders.