The article examining the ties between Digital Lightwave and the Church of Scientology won a Gerald Loeb Award for business reporting.
St. Petersburg Times business reporter Jeff Harrington and former reporter Deborah O'Neil were among those honored Monday with the 2003 Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. Harrington and O'Neil won an award for "The CEO and his Church," an investigation into links between Clearwater's Digital Lightwave and the Church of Scientology.
It was the first time Times reporters have won the award, which was established by the late Gerald Loeb, financier and founding partner of E.F. Hutton, to honor outstanding business journalism. The awards, which include a cash prize of $2,000, are administered by Anderson School at UCLA.
The Times' winning entry was published in June 2002. It was based on a four-month review of thousands of pages of court documents and dozens of interviews by O'Neil and Harrington. Their research revealed how the fortunes and misfortunes of Digital Lightwave, a once high-flying technology company, were affected by influential Scientologists with close ties to the church.
"This is one of the highest honors in business journalism and we're very proud of the work," said Managing Editor Neil Brown. "It's also gratifying because coverage of the church and its affairs is an important local news story, and local news is our franchise."
Harrington joined the Times in March 1998 as banking and insurance reporter working out of the Tampa bureau.
O'Neil spent six years at newspaper. She left the Times in August and is completing a master's degree.
Loeb awards are given in 10 categories; the St. Petersburg Times won in the medium newspaper category. Other journalists honored included Floyd Norris, chief financial correspondent for the New York Times, who received the Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award. Glenn Kramon, business editor of the New York Times, received the Lawrence Minard Editor Award.