2014 Philip Meyer Award winners

These awards were presented at the 2015 CAR Conference in Atlanta.

The contest, for work published or broadcast between Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014, attracted entries from across the country. Stories are available to IRE members through the IRE Resource Center. Click on a story link below or contact us at 573-882-3364573-882-3364  or [email protected].

Entries were judged by Sarah Cohen, The New York Times; Brant Houston, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Philip Meyer, Knight Chair emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of “Precision Journalism”.

First Place

Medicare Advantage Money Grab” | The Center for Public Integrity
Fred Schulte, David Donald, Erin Durkin, and Chris Zubak-Skees

In a superb series on behalf of the taxpayer, The Center for Public Integrity exposed how the medical industry has raised the “risk scores” for elderly patients to overbill the Medicare Advantage program tens of billions of dollars. Despite the challenges of dealing with complex and voluminous government data the Center aptly dissected the shocking shortcomings of a program that was meant to stabilize costs, but instead has allowed the industry to harvest huge sums by saying patients were sicker than they were. The explanation of the risk score system and the analysis of how it is manipulated was particularly lucid.

 

Second Place

Temporary Work, Lasting Harm” | ProPublica
Michael Grabell, Olga Pierce, Jeff Larson and Lena Groeger 

In its series, ProPublica worked around data limitations to uncover a disturbing trend: temporary workers are hurt up to six times the rate of permanent employees, and their injuries are more severe. The stories, which stemmed from on-the-ground reporting during the 2009 stimulus spending spree, used difficult state-level data sets on workers’ compensation, individual case files from federal investigators, and demographic data on employment. Its sophisticated analysis resulted in striking findings, compelling storytelling and reforms in several states.

Third Place

Water’s Edge – The crisis of rising sea levels” | Reuters
Ryan McNeill, Deborah J. Nelson and Duff Wilson

Here is a fine blend of political science and climate science in a story that brings to mind the historic debates on flood control along America’s rivers. The coasts, like the river valleys, have no long-term means of keeping the water from where it wants to go, and no central agency or authority to rationalize the wide range of strategies for dealing with it – from building barriers to simply getting out of the way.  This data-intensive review of what has already happened to ocean levels, plus what is happening right now, provides important perspective to the debate over global warming.