Five ProPublica projects are finalists for the 2023 Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism.
“The Landlord & The Tenant,” by ProPublica reporter Ken Armstrong and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Raquel Rutledge, was named a finalist in the explanatory category. The story describes in searing detail two systems of justice — one for wealthy property owners and another for impoverished renters — that intersect in a devastating house fire outside of Milwaukee.
ProPublica reporter Cezary Podkul’s three-part series on fraudulent online investment schemes was named a finalist in the feature category. The first story, “Human Trafficking’s Newest Abuse: Forcing Victims Into Cyberscamming,” brings to light the mechanics, scale and corporate complicity involved in this dark global enterprise. The second story served as a practical guide to detecting and avoiding the scams. The final story showcased how Podkul’s reporting led Apple to remove an app that was enabling the scam and helped pressure the Cambodian government to raid multiple scam compounds.
“How Foreign Private Equity Hooked New England’s Fishing Industry,” by Will Sennott, a reporter for The New Bedford Light, a Local Reporting Network partner, was named a finalist in the local category. Penetrating an opaque industry, the investigation revealed that private equity firms tied to foreign investors are taking over the nation’s top-earning commercial fishing port. Sennott documented that Blue Harvest, the dominant company, was circumventing antitrust limits on market share, and he tracked its ownership through a series of shells to one of the wealthiest families in the Netherlands. The investigation spurred three U.S. senators to advocate stricter oversight, government officials to acknowledge regulatory failures, a House committee to call for mandatory disclosure of ownership records and the Justice Department to scrutinize antitrust issues in the industry.
“Rent Barons,” with contributions from Heather Vogell, Haru Coryne, Erin Smith and Ryan Little, was named a finalist in the personal finance and consumer reporting category. The series exposed how Wall Street’s growing stake in the American apartment industry is worsening the nation’s rental housing crisis. The first story by Vogell revealed that private equity firms have become the equivalent of corporate house flippers, buying apartments, increasing rents and selling for high profits. The second installment explored the problematic role played by tenant screening companies. The third involved RealPage, whose software helps landlords set rent — and may facilitate cartel-like price fixing. In response, congressional lawmakers wrote five letters urging investigation of RealPage. Dozens of federal lawsuits accused the company and more than 40 major landlords of colluding to artificially inflate rents. The Justice Department opened an inquiry into whether RealPage had violated antitrust laws.
“A Uranium Ghost Town in the Making,” with contributions from Mark Olalde, Maya Miller, Mauricio Rodríguez Pons and photojournalist Ed Ou, was named a finalist in the visual storytelling category. The investigation, co-published with the Los Angeles Times, examined how mining companies and regulators have allowed millions of tons of uranium waste to continue polluting rural areas, exposing overlooked failures in a system meant to protect Western communities and waterways.
See a list of all Loeb Award finalists.