First place: Fred Hiers, Ocala Star-Banner

About this entry: From his investigation of a local physician’s high Medicare payouts to a consideration of the legacy of a locally-trained Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing winner, our judges call Fred Hiers “a serious investigative reporter, but not without an interest in softer subjects.” His ability to find depth in such a wide range of subjects is unparalleled.

Read Fred’s Medicare payouts investigation online here, and browse his Medicare payments database here.

Read online: Hotelier Gaekwad gave to election group that targeted Guinn with last-minute ads, American Pharoah’s status is debatable

Follow Fred on Twitter @Hiersnews

A serious investigative reporter, but not without an interest in softer subjects. A real pro.

Second place: Josh Salman, The Herald-Tribune

About this entry: Josh Salman’s multi-part investigation of the EB-5 program not only expertly gives a facet of the national immigration debate a strong local tie to the program’s specific impact on the state of Florida, but also exposes the program’s many apparent shortfallings from a large range of angles.

Read online: Shortcut to the American dream, Foreign exchange investor loses clients’ money, trust, Flippers find a way

Follow Josh on Twitter @JoshSalman

Dogged reporting and impactful writing. Also excellent use of alternate story forms.

Third place: Dan Gearino, The Columbus Dispatch

About this entry: From his reports on complicated topics like a price fixing controversy by foreign parts manufactures or the uphill battle faced by consumers filing complaints against utility companies, our judges note that while Dan Gearino’s subjects were not always the easiest to report on, much less understand, he did “ a great job reporting about them to a general reader.”

Read online: Massive price-fixing among auto-parts manufacturers hurt U.S. car buyers, Optimism reigns at Columbus Castings after recent industry turmoil, Ohio consumers face difficulties filing complaints against utilities

Follow Dan on Twitter @DanGearino

Not the easiest subject, and what a great job reporting about them to a general reader. Gifted writer.