A series exposing the exorbitant fees and sky-high interest rates of a mobile-home empire has earned the Center a “Best in Business” prize from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW). Three other Center projects were named as finalists in the prestigious competition, which recognizes outstanding business journalism.
The Center was one of just a handful of news outlets to be cited four times in the contest, joined by ProPublica, Quartz, Reuters, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Minneapolis Star Tribune and International Business Times.
The Mobile-Home Trap project was a partnership between the Center, The Seattle Times and Buzzfeed. The series revealed how Clayton Homes, owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, relies on predatory sales practices, high fees and hefty interest rates to trap many buyers in loans they cannot afford and in homes that are difficult to sell or refinance. A second story in the series examined how Clayton Homes “systematically pursues unwitting minority home buyers and baits them into costly, subprime loans.”
Contest judges said the stories helped “…readers gain an understanding of a private company and its practices, and learn much about a little-known corner of the lending marketplace.”
Reporters and editors on the project included Alison Fitzgerald of the Center for Public Integrity and Daniel Wagner of the Center and BuzzFeed, and also Ken Lambert, Garland Potts and Jim Neff of The Seattle Times.
The Center’s was also cited as a finalist for these projects: