Washington, D.C., business writer Dan Wagner took first place in the feature writing category of the 2013 Society of American Business Editors and Writers Best in Business contest.
Dan has covered finance in Washington since joining The AP in 2008. He covered the financial crisis, then joined the markets team to write about the intersection of Wall Street and Washington.
Dan won for a great story about a little-known government group, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Dan learned about the bureau through a notice in the Federal Register, a daily digest of official filings by government agencies.
The bureau had posted a notice on the legal definition of Pisco, a type of South American brandy. Following his curiosity, Dan discovered a small, complex and amusing agency with fundamentally conflicting interests: it regulates, taxes and promotes the alcohol and tobacco industries.
The bureau sets rules for such things as s how much air a gin bottle can have between the lid and the liquor, and it owns a machine that can smoke 20 cigarettes at once.
Dan will receive his award at SABEW’s 50th annual conference in Washington in early April.