Seattle Times reporters have been awarded the 2012 Data Journalism Award for their work exposing the state of Washington's financially motivated...

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Seattle Times reporters have been awarded the 2012 Data Journalism Award for their work exposing the state of Washington’s financially motivated practice of sanctioning methadone for people in state-subsidized health care.

The award by the Global Editors Network is the first international competition to recognize outstanding work in the growing field of data journalism. The Global Editors Network, meeting at the News World Summit in Paris, announced the winners in each of six categories Tuesday.

In the three-part series, “Methadone and the Politics of Pain,” The Times reported that the poor have been hit hardest by the state’s reliance on methadone.

State health officials had disregarded repeated warnings about methadone’s unique risks, saying it was just as safe as any other painkiller.

Reporters Michael J. Berens, Ken Armstrong and Justin Mayo gathered and analyzed thousands of state death records, as well as other data, to reveal that Medicaid recipients, which make up about 8 percent of Washington’s adult population, account for 48 percent of the methadone deaths.

At least 2,173 people died in Washington state between 2003 and 2011 after accidentally overdosing on methadone, which was one of the state’s two preferred painkillers for Medicaid patients and recipients of workers’ compensation.

The judges said the series “combines the best standards of investigative journalism with the application of the finest tools of database journalism. For this story, the reporters went far beyond gathering, cleaning and mapping data. … The interactive graphics are revealing, simple and easy to use.”

Times multimedia producer Danny Gawlowski also contributed to the series.

There were more than 300 entries from 60 countries in the six award categories. The Times won for the best local/regional data-driven investigation.

The series previously had been recognized with the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, the Selden Ring Award from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, among others.