‘Foreclosure’s Fallout’ judged best of 2007 foreclosure reporting

by Gregory Korte on August 25, 2008

The other day, my colleague Alexander Coolidge found out — belatedly and accidentally — that our series on foreclosures won an honorable mention (and a $1,000 cash prize) from Excellence in Economic Journalism from the Fund for American Studies. (From the newspaper: “Enquirer series on foreclosures honored for economic reporting.”)

We came in a close second to the winner of the $10,000 prize: The New Orleans Times-Picayune, for an exposé of insurance fraud in the wake of Katrina. But what was especially gratifying was that, of all the reporting on the foreclosure crisis last year, The Enquirer’s series was judged as good or better than news organizations 10 times its size.

Here’s the comments from the judges:

Well reported series on the subprime mortgage crisis comprised seven of the nine finalists… But a wonderfully reported enterprise series by Rebecca Mowbray of the New Orleans Times-Picayune on insurance fraud in the wake of Katrina Hurricane took the $10,000 award.

Honorable mention and a $1,000 prize went to Gregory Korte and Alexander Coolidge of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The IPJ competition for 2007 drew the largest number of entries in its history.

The seven finalists writing on the subprime mess were the Wall Street Journal, the Seattle Times, the Miami Herald, Bloomberg News, the Sacramento Bee, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Asbury Park Press. The Detroit News submitted a fine series on the sale of Chrysler Corp. to a private equity group by Mercedes Benz.

The Wall Street Journal threw an army of reporters at the subprime crisis over the course of the year. Bloomberg News produced a number of prophetic pieces labeling certain kinds of subprimre mortgage securities “toxic waste” and predicting the crisis that was about to break.

But The Cincinnati Enquirer and Sacramento Bee series were judged the best of the subprime efforts. The Enquirer’s Gregory Korte and Alexander Coolidge produced more than a dozen pieces showing every aspect of the crisis as it destroyed values, shattered lives, and transformed whole communities in the Cincinnati area. The Sacramento Bee’s eight part series matched them in excellence, but four reporters were involved. So the judges awarded the honorable mention to the Enquirer’s outnumbered two.

The Enquirer’s and Bee’s series almost took top prize. But in the end, the judges felt the work of Mowbray at the Times-Picayune was first among almost equals and most deserved the award.

Judges were Rich Thomas of Newsweek; Mike Ruby, formerly of U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek and the Milwaukee Journal; and John Merline, formerly at USA Today and now AOL.

Congratulations to the Times-Picayune for the well deserved award.

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