About AHCJ: General News

2011 winners named for top health journalism awards Date: 04/04/12

April 4, 2012

See more about each winner, including a summary of the entry and the judges' comments. AHCJ members can click on the title of the entry to see the questionnaire about how the story was reported.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – A touching narrative about a terminally ill man’s choices at the end of life – along with stories showcasing how ethnic communities are coping with diabetes and an investigation into one doctor’s trail of malpractice allegations – were among the top winners of this year’s Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.

First-place awards also went to stories detailing risks at hospitals – including a higher-than-average rate of violence against workers – and a series uncovering problems with state and federal oversight of private ambulance services in Houston.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel took two first-place honors, one for an examination of how a legal standard for mental health commitments has proved tragically inadequate and a second for an investigation into illnesses and deaths linked to contaminated wipes used by hospitals in several states.

David Armstrong of Bloomberg News took first place in beat reporting for his comprehensive coverage of the rapidly growing $300 billion pain management market.

The 2011 awards, announced today by the Association of Health Care Journalists, recognize the best health reporting in 10 categories. This year, the contest’s eighth, the categories were reorganized to better reflect the changing media marketplace. Instead of traditional silos – separate categories for print, radio, TV and online – the contest moved to topic-area categories. Reporters from across mediums competed head-to-head.

AHCJ received more than 400 entries – a record.

Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism

"Our judges were very impressed by the caliber of entries, which tells me that reporters are really digging into their beats, despite the ongoing troubles of our industry," said contest chair Julie Appleby, senior correspondent for the nonprofit Kaiser Health News.

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 more than 45 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 Naseem Miller, Victoria Colliver, Cate Vojdik and Robert Garrett.

The awards will be presented during a luncheon April 21 at Health Journalism 2012, the association's annual conference, in Atlanta. 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/hj12.

AHCJ is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues. With more than 1,200 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.

2011 Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism

[Click here for more about each winner.]

Beat Reporting

First: David Armstrong, Bloomberg News

Second: Trine Kristin Tsouderos, Chicago Tribune

Third: Robert Weisman, The Boston Globe

Honorable mention: Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News

Public Health

First: Dealing With Diabetes: Three Stories of Ethnic Communities Coping with an Epidemic; Pauline Bartolone, Catherine Stifter, Joe Barr, Capital Public Radio

Second: Freedom from Pain; International Reporting Program, University of British Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Al Jazeera English

Third: The Dental Epidemic of Alameda County; Rose Tibayan, John Fowler, Ron Acker, KTVU-Oakland, Calif.

Health Policy

First: Imminent Danger; Meg Kissinger, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Second: Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities; The Center for Public Integrity, National Public Radio

Third: The Weight of War; Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, Patricia Murphy, KUOW-Seattle

Honorable mention: Pre-existing Condition: Female, Jenny Deam, Diane J. Salvatore, Prevention Magazine

Honorable mention: A Desperate Scramble: Medicare Limits Drugs that Kidney Patients Need; John Gonzales, Lauren M. Whaley, CHCF Center for Health Reporting, Tom Kisken, Ventura County Star


First: Danger Zones; Joe Carlson, Modern Healthcare

Second: Squeezed to Death; Heather Boerner, Lucia Hwang, National Nurse Magazine

Third: Lost in Transition: The Looming Epidemic of Grown-up Congenital Heart Disease, Lisa Nainggolan, www.theheart.org

Investigative (Large)

First: Shattered Trust; staff, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Second (tie): Counterfeit Drugs; Sam Hornblower, Kyra Darnton, Sanjay Gupta, M.D., 60 Minutes/CBS News

Second: (tie): Decoding Prime; Christina Jewett, Lance Williams, Stephen K. Doig, California Watch

Honorable mention: Drugging Delinquents; Michael LaForgia, The Palm Beach Post

Investigative (Small)

First: The Case of Dr. Konasiewicz; Brandon Stahl, Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune

Second: Cash, Criminals and Human Organs; Michael S. Smith, Daryna Krasnolutska, David Glovin, Bloomberg Markets Magazine

Third: Athlete Buyers, Beware; Betsy Cliff, The Bulletin, Bend, Ore.

Honorable mention: UConn’s Dempsey Hospital off the Charts in Controversial "Double CT Scan" Use; Lisa Chedekel, Connecticut Health Investigative Team

Consumer and Feature (Large)

First: Lives Restored; Benedict Carey, The New York Times

Second: The Screening Dilemma; Kate Pickert, Time

Third: Code Green: Bleeding Dollars; Luis Fabregas, Andrew Conte, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Honorable mention: Home Alone: Adult Health Center Cuts Devastate Elderly, Disabled; Jocelyn Wiener, Lauren M. Whaley, CHCF Center for Health Reporting with New America Media

Consumer and Feature (Small)

First: His Final Choice: Reflections on Life, Death and a Lethal Dose of Seconal; Tahlia Honea, Skagit Valley (Wash.) Herald

Second: The Woman Who Fell to Earth; Ruthann Richter, Stanford Medicine Magazine

Third: Sex After Breast Cancer; Georgie Binks, Best Health

Business (Large)

First: Is Houston EMS Taking Medicare For A Ride? Terri Langford, Yang Wang, Houston Chronicle

Second: ER building boom is wrong prescription, critics say; Carol M. Ostrom, The Seattle Times

Third: Inside Pfizer’s Palace Coup; Peter Elkind, Jennifer Reingold, Doris Burke, Fortune

Honorable mention: Challenging the Way DaVita Does Business; Michael Booth, Jennifer Brown, Christopher Osher, The Denver Post

Business (Small)

Special Citation: Blue Cross Flush with Cash; Renee Dudley, The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.

NOTE: See more about each winner, including a summary of the entry and the judges' comments. On that page, AHCJ members can click on the title of the entry to see the questionnaire about how the story was reported.