Asheville Watchdog won a National Headliner Award honoring the best journalism in the United States in 2021.

Sally Kestin

Equity Erased, a five-part investigative series by reporter Sally Kestin, won third place in investigative reporting for online news sites. First place went to The Markup, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates how powerful institutions use technology to change society. The Better Government Association, an Illinois-based watchdog, won second place.

Equity Erased documented how Buncombe County homeowners, many of them elderly and/or Black, lost years and sometimes generations of equity to real estate investor Robert Perry Tucker II. An associate, Lisa K. Roberts, was charged in February with nine felony counts of notarizing an action by fraud or forgery. Her case is pending.

A criminal investigation by the North Carolina Secretary of State is continuing, a spokesman said.

The Headliner Awards, founded in 1934 by the Press Club of Atlantic City, are one of the oldest and largest annual journalism contests in the country. In this year’s competition The Los Angeles Times won 19 awards, including Best in Show for newspapers.

Asheville Watchdog was one of two North Carolina news organizations honored for investigative reporting. The Charlotte Observer won first place for newspapers not in the top 20 media markets.

Kestin, a Pulitzer Prize winner for public service journalism, and a Pulitzer finalist for investigative reporting, co-founded Asheville Watchdog in 2020.

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