Mike Baker, 33, and Justin Mayo, 48, have won one of the highest awards in investigative journalism for their work over two years that uncovered troubles at Seattle's Swedish-Cherry Hill.

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Mike Baker and Justin Mayo of The Seattle Times have won one of the most prestigious awards in investigative journalism for their work exposing troubles at Seattle’s Swedish-Cherry Hill.

Baker, 33, and Mayo, 48, were awarded a total of $50,000 for the 2018 Selden Ring Award for their investigative reporting,  “Quantity of Care,” which led to resignations and widespread reform within the prominent neuroscience institute.

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism announced the honor Monday, naming as finalists The New York Times’ work uncovering sexual assault, harassment and misconduct and a project called “All Work. No Pay” by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, among nearly 80 entries total.

The college has presented the award for 29 years.


Surgery was supposed to mean a better life for Talia. But something went wrong.

High volume, big dollars, rising tension at Swedish's Cherry Hill hospital

Swedish double-booked its surgeries, and the patients didn’t know

Swedish’s ambitious plans involved a developer with a stake in their success

Ongoing coverage

More on this investigation » Full 'Quantity of Care' series » More Times Watchdog stories

The four-part series by Mayo and Baker began with an in-depth look at the treatment of Talia Goldenberg, a 23-year-old artist who died following spine surgery at Swedish in 2014 and ended with a story uncovering how the hospital’s relationship with a real-estate developer complicated efforts to maintain control over medical programs. The reporting spanned two years and was published in 2017.

The Selden Ring Award “honors work in investigative journalism that leads to direct results,” a news release says.

“With searing clarity and persistence, the project detailed hospital billing practices, risky medical procedures and lapsed protocols by piecing together complicated data sets with key internal documents and medical records,” a judge wrote, according to the release.

“Using this data, they produced a moving investigative narrative that resulted in important changes that could lead to increased safety for patients.”

During a celebration to mark the award in The Seattle Times newsroom Monday afternoon, Baker said a portion of the prize money would help cover the costs of Seattle Times journalists attending investigative reporting workshops.

He has been with the newspaper for four years, while Mayo has been a Seattle Times reporter for 19. Seattle Magazine named the duo  among the “Most Influential Seattleites” last year.

In 2012, Seattle Times reporters Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong won the Selden Ring Award for their work uncovering Washington’s financially motivated sanction of methadone with a project called “Methadone and the Politics of Pain.”

A list of all previous winners is available via USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s website.