The Sacred Elephant

In a few hours, I’ll be on the plane to New York City where I’ve been nominated for the American Society of Magazine Editors award in the Public Interest category for my investigative piece on the Lembi Family and the Citi Apartments collapse.  If I win, I get to take home the sacred elephant, the Elle, as they call it.

It’s a strange looking award. The elephant’s ears also seem to serve as its legs. I wonder how one is supposed to hold it if one wins.  I mean, it’s not like I could cradle it like an Oscar. It’s not the cuddly golden boy. Also, I’m not sure of its size.  Can I offer it up in the palm of my hand? or could I stand beneath it?

Anyway, I’m very nervous.

The other entries in this category are great, particularly the one by New Yorker writer Atul Gawande.  He wrote about two town in Texas within a few miles of each other  — McAllen and El Paso — that had roughly the same demographic but for some reason McAllen  had among the highest Medicare reimbursement rate in the country while the other was just below the national average.  The subject of the story was exploring  how that could be possible.  What he found was that in McAllen, the doctors owned the hospitals and the testing facilities and therefore had a huge motivation to charge more for tests. The piece was riveting in the way it explained disparities in the health care system through exploring these two towns.

So, what are my chances? I’m going up against The New Yorker, National Geographic, Technology Review and Boston Review. Strong competitors.  But, hey, my story is very strong too.

Tomorrow night at Alice Tully Hall, I’ll know