It’s a shame that the Molly Awards are circulated almost exclusively within progressive circles.

Named for the late and outrageously outspoken Molly Ivins, this year’s prizes went to three stories or series that every American citizen should read.

Top prize: Sarah Stillman of the New Yorker for a story on "throwaway" people who commit some minor drug crime, then are coaxed by police, in exchange for promised easy treatment, to go undercover to nail hardened criminals, sometimes leading to their deaths.

One Honorable Mention went to Ames Alexander and Karen Garloch (Charlotte Observer) teaming with Joseph Neff and David Raynor (The News & Observer) for a series on how supposedly nonprofit hospitals actually gouge patients and insurance companies while paying their top executives handsomely.

The other Honorable Mention was nabbed by Shane Bauer, who, after enduring solitary confinement in Iran, researched the extent of the practice in the U.S., including prisoners who had been separated from the general population for decades.

Whew!

That’s not all. Susan Longley, who cut her political teeth under Bob Bullock and is considered the "den mother" for the Texas Observer staff, which gives out the Molly Awards, was honored with the Bernard Rapoport Philanthropy Award.

Longtime ABC News correspondent John Quiñones delivered the keynote speech about rising from a working-class San Antonio family to covering Central America for 15 years, while accomplishing quite a lot before and since then.

Yet the spirit of Ivins was embodied by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz — also married to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown — who told some pretty outrageous and funny stories herself. Schultz says she’s never emceed before, but it felt like she’d been doing it her whole public life.

It helped that Schultz researched everything, including the background of the Austin journalist sitting next to her at the banquet table, which was pretty darn impressive for such a busy national figure from Ohio.