About AHCJ: General News

2015 winners named in top health journalism contest Date: 02/29/16


March 1, 2016

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

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Hundreds of people with disabilities sent to group homes against their will, troubles in nursing homes, and an examination of infant mortality rates that rival those in some Third World countries were among the stories winning top honors in this year’s Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.

Also winning awards were pieces that found inconsistent standards for home care in Ontario, injuries sidelining nurses across the United States and a radio feature that followed a young man with a failing liver.

John Carreyrou of The Wall Street Journal won first place in beat reporting for his coverage of Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup that has had trouble with its blood-testing technology.

The 2015 awards, announced today by the Association of Health Care Journalists, recognize the best health reporting in 11 categories. This year, the contest’s 12th, had reporters compete across mediums in topic area categories, including public health, business and health policy. More than 460 entries were received.

“The depth and breadth of coverage across a wide range of topics is truly inspiring. It’s a privilege to be able to honor the consequential work being done here in the U.S. and internationally,” said contest chair and AHCJ board member Julie Appleby, a 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.

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

Contest entries were screened and judged by more than 50 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 Tony Leys, Blythe Bernhard, Charles Ornstein and Cate Vojdik.

The awards will be presented during a luncheon on April 9 at Health Journalism 2016, the association's annual conference, taking place this year in Cleveland. First-place winners will receive $500 plus registration and hotel accommodations at the conference. Some winners will speak on conference panels about their work.

AHCJ is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues. With more than 1,500 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.

Beat Reporting

First: John Carreyrou, The Wall Street Journal

Second: Kay Lazar, The Boston Globe

Third: Fred Mogul, WNYC

Investigative (Large)

First: A Matter of Dignity; Chris Serres and Glenn Howatt, (Minneapolis) Star Tribune

Second: Clash in the name of care; Jenn Abelson, Jonathan Saltzman and Liz Kowalczyk, The Boston Globe

Third: Injured Nurses; Daniel Zwerdling, NPR

Investigative (Small)

First: Warehousing Our Children; Lauren Sausser, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier

Second: Inside Our Hospitals; Audrey Dutton, Idaho Statesman

Third: Fields of Toxic Pesticides Surround the Schools of Ventura County — Are They Poisoning the Students?, Liza Gross, The Nation with the Food & Environment Reporting Network

Consumer (Large)

First: The Double Mastectomy Rebellion; Lucette Lagnado, The Wall Street Journal

Second: Searching for a new liver; traveling for transplant; Karen Shakerdge, Joel Patterson and Mia Lobel, WHYY's The Pulse

Third: Risks Are High at Low-Volume Hospitals; Steve Sternberg and Geoff Dougherty, U.S. News & World Report

Consumer (Small)

First: Tiniest preemies, toughest decision; Markian Hawryluk, Bend (Ore.) Bulletin

Second: The public health dilemma of a fading black community; David Kroman, Crosscut.com

Third: Growing a family tree: Finding lost relatives is getting easier with genetic testing and social media; Sonya Collins, Genome


First: The Dysfunction in Drug Prices; Jonathan Rockoff, Joseph Walker and Jeanne Whalen, The Wall Street Journal

Second: Medicare Advantage Overcharges; Fred Schulte, The Center for Public Integrity

Third: Deadly Outbreaks, Dangerous Scopes; Chad Terhune and Melody Petersen, Los Angeles Times

Public Health (Large)

First: A Game of Chicken; Lynne Terry, The Oregonian

Second: Poverty's Poison; Michael Hawthorne, Chicago Tribune

Third: Living Lonely; Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Public Health (Small)

First: The Brief Life and Private Death of Alexandria Hill; Brian Joseph, University of California, Berkeley

Second: Cradle of Shame; Lauren Sausser and Doug Pardue, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier

Third: The Missing Generation; Jessica Wright, Spectrum

Health Policy (Large)

First: Hidden Errors; Ellen Gabler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Second: Drug Problems: Dangerous Decision-making at the FDA; John Crewdson, David Hilzenrath, Michael Smallberg, Project on Government Oversight

Third: No Place Like Home; Kelly Grant, Elizabeth Church, Fred Lum, The (Ontario) Globe and Mail

Health Policy (Small)

First: Living on: Improving the odds of organ transplants; David Wahlberg, Wisconsin State Journal

Second: Maternal health: Ebola's lasting legacy; Erika Check Hayden, Nature

Third: Running on Empty; Kristen Schorsch and Jason McGregor, Crain's Chicago Business


First: The Lost Girls; Apoorva Mandavilli, Spectrum

Second: Mapping Healthcare's Diverging Paths; Beth Kutscher, Modern Healthcare

Third: The Drug Rep Will See You Now; Frederik Joelving, The BMJ