Arkansas Business reporters Mark Friedman and Kyle Massey and Editor Gwen Moritz were recognized for work published in 2016 by the Alliance of Area Business Publishers, an international association of business journals.
Friedman received a silver award for investigative reporting among medium-sized publications for an article describing the no-bid contract for legal services that State Auditor Andrea Lea awarded to an out-of-state law firm on the recommendation of one of her campaign contributors, Texarkana attorney John Goodson.
That article also revealed the extent to which Lea had encouraged her staff to use private email to communicate with her about state business.
The contest was judged by journalism faculty members from the University of Missouri at Columbia. Of Friedman's entry, the judges wrote: "The writer weaves a tale of political connections, outrageous fees and legislative maneuvering that shines a light on questionable political deals. The publication names names, and can do so because of Friedman's air-tight reporting."
Friedman, a senior editor, joined the Arkansas Business staff in 2000. This is the second consecutive year in which he has been recognized for investigative reporting about Goodson. Last year he received a gold award for reporting in 2015 that exposed a class-action strategy which resulted in sanctions against Goodson and other attorneys.
This year's gold in investigative reporting by a medium-sized business journal was awarded to the Providence Business News for reporting on the state of Rhode Island's pension funding crisis.
Massey received a silver award for explanatory journalism by a medium-sized publication for an article about the collapse of the state's shale gas industry. The article appeared in June 2016, three months after Massey joined Arkansas Business as an assistant editor.
The judges wrote: "Lively writing by Massey drives this story, which shows how the state's hydraulic fracturing activity has trailed off. The writer melds information from statistics and interviews well."
The gold in explanatory journalism also went to the Providence Business News for reporting that explained the causes of the city of Providence's financial problems.
Moritz, editor of Arkansas Business since 1999, received the gold award for bylined commentary among medium-sized business journals. Her winning portfolio included columns on the proposed ballot item that would have written Missouri casino companies into the state constitution, the fallout from Wells Fargo's fraudulent account scandal and salaries paid to physicians at CARTI.
"Ms. Moritz pulls no punches and writes columns that make a difference," the judges wrote. "Her courage and solid reporting make her pieces rise to the top."
Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Alliance of Area Business Publishers is a nonprofit national organization representing 55 independent magazine and newspaper members in the United States, Canada and Australia.