Overdrive wins prestigious Neal Award for predatory towing news

Updated Apr 30, 2024

Overdrive’s coverage of the impacts of predatory towing among small trucking businesses in 2023 earned a prestigious Jesse H. Neal Award, which recognizes exemplary work in business journalism.

Executive Editor Alex Lockie’s in-depth coverage of numerous incidents of trucking companies -- often small fleets and owner-operators -- hit with outlandish towing bills was recognized in first place in the Best News Coverage category at the Neals.

While the wider trucking industry has placed emphasis on abuse of state-ordered nonconsensual tow fees for years, where Overdrive's readership tends to feel the most pain is on the parking lot. There, often-unscrupulous companies are hired to essentially police private lots with not-well-advertised fees in place. Lockie’s reporting included individuals’ stories of their experiences with parking-lot pirates and outlandish bills, input from the towing and recovery industry about towing costs, and acknowledgment from that industry of “bad actors” that give the towing business a bad name.

Readers share in the award as well. Lockie's reporting on the subject stemmed directly from your reports of bad actors, including particularly egregious examples, then went deeper to offer various mitigation strategies and detail on states' legislative approaches to the issue.

Judges at the awards ceremony Friday, April 26, at Current in New York City lauded the news coverage overall as "probing the unfair, emotional, costly, and sometimes violent practice of predatory towing. The authors do an excellent job of coordinating interviews and offer a look at the financial realities faced by towing companies, which provides important balance.”

In addition to Lockie’s predatory coverage towing, Overdrive was also a finalist in the Best Subject-Related Package category for the “Trucking’s State of Surveillance” 10-part special report last summer.

[Related: Trucking's best defense against predatory towing: A step-by-step guide]