First place: Greg Barnes, Fayetteville Observer, Fayetteville, North Carolina

About this entry: Senior reporter Greg Barnes dogged pursuit of the truth about the death of a child under Social Services supervision is in the best tradition of watchdog journalism.

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Read online: Investigation: A child’s death, despite warnings to Social Services, court

Great example of accountability journalism as well as show-leather reporting. The reporter clearly did his research and convinced key people close to the story to talk. It’s never easy to cover children’s service agencies because many of their records are confidential. This is an outstanding example of working around that.

Second place: Shelby Webb, The Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, Florida

Third place: Isaac Guerrero, Rockford Register Star, Rockford, Illinois