Methodist University Hospital. Photo by Andrea Morales.

The “Profiting from the Poor” series on hospital debt collections has won another major honor for MLK50: Justice Through Journalism and ProPublica — first place for local reporting in the 2020 Gerald Loeb Awards for best business and financial reporting worldwide.

The winners were announced during a virtual event Thursday evening by the UCLA Anderson School of Management. The awards, established in 1957 by Loeb — a founding partner of E.F. Hutton — were presented in 12 categories and there were two special honors.

“Profiting from the Poor,” an investigative series written by MLK50 editor and publisher Wendi C. Thomas, exposed aggressive debt collection practices against the poor by Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare and Southeastern Emergency Physicians. The series led to Methodist erasing $11.9 million in medical debt and prompted changes within both institutions.

The series and Thomas have won several other honors.

  • The bronze prize in the 14th annual Bartlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism
  • The 2020 Selden Ring Award for investigative reporting
  • First place in the Association of Health Care Journalists’ 2019 awards for business reporting
  • Tied for first place in the Investigative Reporters & Editors 2019 awards in the print/online division 1
  • Thomas came in second place for Best Columnist in the Memphis Flyer’s 2020 Best of Memphis contest.


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