2013 Philip Meyer Award winners
These awards will be presented at the 2014 CAR Conference in Baltimore.
The contest, for work published or broadcasted between October 2012 and October 2013, 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 573-882-3364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Prescribers” ProPublica
Tracy Weber, Charles Ornstein, Jennifer LaFleur, Jeff Larson and Lena Groeger
This team of intrepid reporters did what Medicare officials had failed to do. They put a bright spotlight on the hundreds of millions of dollars that are wasted each year by a relative handful of doctors who prescribe expensive brand name drugs in high volumes instead of much cheaper generics. Using statistical tests to identify the outliers, they chewed through more than 1.2 billion Medicare Part D records and built an interactive “Prescriber Checkup” database that lets readers see the prescription patterns of their own physicians. Their reporting prompted Medicare to promise Congress that the agency would toughen its oversight of such abuses.
“The Unequal State of America” Reuters
Deborah Nelson, Kristina Cooke, David Rohde, Himanshu Ojha and Ryan McNeill
This story used statistical measures like the Gini index and income ratios to document the widening gap between the rich and the poor. The team analyzed three decades worth of economic data on income and poverty to find that inequality has been increasing in 49 out of 50 states. The analysis revealed that despite political scolding about the “undeserving poor”, nearly half of childless working age adults who can’t get jobs and live below the poverty line still get no assistance from any of the five major federal assistance programs. The reporters used the numbers to find compelling stories of people squeezed by the nation’s rising inequality.
“Leaky Washington” The Wall Street Journal
Brody Mullins, Susan Pulliam, Tom McGinty, Michael Rothfeld, Jenny Strasburg, Scott Patterson and Christopher Weaver
“Leaky Washington” examined how the shadowy world of Washington “political intelligence” firms troll the capital for tips about coming regulatory actions and early peeks at economic data to give their stock trader clients an investment advantage over the larger public. They did time-series analyses of daily stock price patterns to find cases where clients made large profits from early alerts about agency decisions that would affect the value of certain stocks. They also illuminated how some policy firms increasingly were using the Freedom of Information Act to gather documents about adverse drug reactions and pharmaceutical inspection reports that haven’t been posted publicly, gaining an advantage of days or months over other investors. The series of stories has prompted Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission to examine the political intelligence industry for signs of crossing the line into insider trading.