American Banker has won three Society of American Business Editors and Writers 2012 Best in Business awards, in the categories of Commentary, Investigative and Explanatory journalism.
Reporters Jeff Horwitz and Maria Aspan won the Investigative Journalism award in the category of dailies with circulations up to 100,000 for their coverage of banks' credit card debt collection practices. Victoria Finkle and Horwitz were recognized in the Explanatory category for their piece profiling the market for credit card payment protection plans. Editor at Large Barbara Rehm was honored for her hard-hitting commentary.
"First-class journalism matters more than ever in a digital world where words are cheap. It's rewarding to see our colleagues recognized for first-class work that's making a difference," said Neil Weinberg, Editor in Chief of American Banker.
In their stories on credit card debt collection, Horwitz and Aspan exposed how large banks and outside agencies demand billions of dollars in payments from troubled credit card customers based on faulty and even nonexistent records. The series gained widespread media attention and led to investigations and a Federal Trade commission report substantiating many of the concerns raised by American Banker.
Finkle and Horwitz's story on credit card payment protection plans explained how banks generate in excess of a billion dollars in annual profits via deft regulatory and legal maneuvering with a product that offers buyers minimal value. Following the story's publication, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau came to multimillion-dollar settlements with Capital One and Discover Financial Services over their payment protection marketing.
Barbara Rehm was recognized for delivering the truth to the banking industry, even when it hurts. The long-time American Banker staffer's columns are discussed throughout the banking industry for their pointed, unflinching commentary. As is true with the best commentators, Rehm also regularly breaks news, as she did in a recent column titled "Big Banks Flunk OCC Risk Tests."
This marks the third consecutive year that SABEW has recognized Horwitz's work at American Banker. He won awards in Investigative Journalism in 2012 and 2011 for his in-depth look at conflicts of interest in the mortgage servicing industry.
SABEW, the world's largest organization of business and financial journalists, is based at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This year's awards will be presented April 5 at the 50th annual SABEW spring conference at George Washington University in Washington.