About AHCJ: General News

2010 winners named in premier health journalism awards Date: 03/22/11


March 22, 2011

See more about each winner, including a summary of the entry and the judges' comments. 

♦For links to the winning entries, as well as the judges' comments, please see the expanded list, where AHCJ members can log in to read about how the winning entries were reported and written. ♦

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Investigations into shoddy oversight of adult care homes and low quality at dialysis centers – along with moving portrayals of the trade-offs patients and their families face with some life-saving medical treatments – were among the top winners in this year's Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.

First-place honors also went to stories examining the bankruptcy of an iconic New York hospital and the pollution conundrum posed by wood stoves. Domestic issues were not the only focus: Winners also included a look at the state of health care in China and a series highlighting how other countries face up to difficult questions about who will receive care amid limited resources.

Kay Lazar of The Boston Globe was named the top winner in the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalismbeat reporting category for her breadth and depth in covering important health policy issues, from people who are exploiting a loophole in Massachusetts' health law to excessive use of anti-psychotic drugs in nursing homes.

The 2010 awards, announced today by the Association of Health Care Journalists, recognize the best health reporting in nine categories covering print, broadcast and online media. The contest, in its seventh year, received more than 300 entries, an increase from the previous year.

"Journalists are tackling difficult and important medical and health policy issues, despite working in an era of increasingly limited resources," said contest chair Julie Appleby, senior correspondent for the nonprofit Kaiser Health News. "The high quality of these winning entries show they are doing so in a way that not only captivates and informs, but in many cases also results in needed changes."

AHCJ launched the awards program amid growing concern that too many journalism awards are sponsored by special interest groups that seek to sway media coverage. No health care companies or agencies fund AHCJ's awards program.

Contest entries were screened and judged by 37 working journalists or journalism professors. AHCJ board members and contest committee members were not eligible to enter the contest. In addition to Appleby, the contest committee includes AHCJ members Victoria Colliver, Cate Vojdik and Robert Garrett.

The awards will be presented during a luncheon April 16 at Health Journalism 2011, the association's annual conference, in Philadelphia. First-place winners will receive $500 plus registration and hotel accommodations at the conference. Winners also will speak on conference panels about their work. Those interested in attending can get further information at healthjournalism.org/hj11.

AHCJ is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues. With more than 1,000 members across the United States and around the globe, its mission is to improve the quality, accuracy and visibility of health care reporting, writing and editing. The association and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism provide training, resources and a professional home for journalists. Its offices are based at the Missouri School of Journalism.

This year's winners

♦For links to the winning entries, as well as the judges' comments, please see the expanded list. AHCJ members can log in to read about how the winning entries were reported and written. ♦

General Interest Magazines above 1 million circ.

First Place: My Father's Broken Heart; Katy Butler, The New York Times Magazine

Second Place: A Light in the Darkness; Pablo S. Torre, Sports Illustrated

Third Place: The New Psychedelic Renaissance; Steven Kotler, Playboy

General Interest Magazines below 1 million circ.

First Place: St. Vincent’s Is the Lehman Brothers of Hospitals; Mark Levine, New York Magazine

Second Place: End of Life: Lessons of a $618,616 Death; Amanda Bennett, Bloomberg Businessweek

Third Place: The Organ Dealer; Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, Discover Magazine


First Place: Rationing Health: Who Lives? Who Decides?; David Baron, Patrick Cox, Sheri Fink, PRI's The World, WGBH-Boston

Second Place: A Scientist's Saga: Give Son the Gift of Speech; Mary Beth Kirchner, National Public Radio

Third Place: Pediatric Hospice; April Dembosky, KQED-San Francisco

Honorable mention: Losing Hospital, A County Comes Alive; Sarah Varney, KQED-San Francisco

Honorable mention: The Economics of End-of-Life Care: Part I & II; Caitlan Carroll and Betsy Streisand, Marketplace Radio

Beat Reporting

First Place: Kay Lazar's 2010 Body of Work; Kay Lazar, The Boston Globe

Second Place: Elizabeth Simpson's 2010 Body of Work; Elizabeth Simpson, The Virginian-Pilot

Third Place: Duke Helfand's 2010 Body of Work; Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times

Metro Newspapers

First Place: Seniors for Sale; Michael J. Berens, The Seattle Times

Second Place: Target: Cancer; Amy Harmon, The New York Times

Third Place: Strong at Any Cost; Amy Brittain and Mark Mueller, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger

Honorable mention: Cradle of Secrets; Staff, The Charlotte Observer

Honorable mention: Secrets of the System; Staff, The Wall Street Journal

Community Newspapers

First Place: A Burning Issue; Deborah Schoch, Steve Schoonover, Larry Mitchell, California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting & Chico Enterprise-Record

Second Place: Lifesaving Drugs, Deadly Consequences; Carol Smith, InvestigateWest

Third Place: One Brain at a Time; Tony Bartelme, The Post and Courier

Honorable Mention: Out of reach: The rural health care gap; David Wahlberg, Wisconsin State Journal


First Place: China Health Series; Merrill Schwerin, Ray Suarez, Catherine Wise, PBS NewsHour

Second Place: This Emotional Life; Paul G. Allen, PBS

Third Place: A Crisis in Caring: California's School Nursing Shortage; Kelly Peterson, Martin Christian, Tim Walton, KVIE Public Television


First Place: Dialysis – High Costs & Hidden Perils of a Treatment Guaranteed to All; Robin Fields, ProPublica

Second Place: Do No Harm: Hospital Care in Las Vegas; Marshall Allen and Alex Richards, Las Vegas Sun

Third Place: Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice; Kristen Lombardi, Kristin Jones, David Donald, The Center for Public Integrity

Trade Publications/Newsletters

First Place: The Cost of Living; Kathy LaTour, CURE Media Group

Second Place: Closing the Distance: Native Americans and Epilepsy; Aliyah Baruchin, EpilepsyUSA

Third Place: The Duke Debacle: Misadventures in Personalized Medicine; Paul Goldberg, The Cancer Letter

Honorable mention: Brain, Interrupted; Megan Scudellari, The Scientist