About AHCJ: General News

Top health reporting of 2018 recognized in Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism Date: 03/27/19

Columbia, MO. – Reporting that exposed faulty, careless or crooked practices won many top honors in this year’s Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.

The 2018 winners were announced today by the Association of Health Care Journalists. The contest, now in its 15th year, drew more than 350 entries in 12 categories.

The association’s board added a new student category to the contest this year, to recognize the work of journalists training to cover health care.

The winning student entry came from Ashley Lyles, Dan Robitzski and Cici Zhang, who were students in New York University’s Science, Health & Environmental Reporting Program. Their piece, published in Undark, showed how pharmaceutical companies can tweak the design of clinical studies to help ensure approval of new drugs.

Hard-edged reporting also brought top honors in many other categories.

Kaiser Health News’ Marisa Taylor won first place in the business category with a look at how a rogue researcher at Southern Illinois University did unauthorized, risky research on a herpes vaccine in the Caribbean and in Illinois hotel rooms.

The large-outlet portion of the investigative category was won by a partnership including the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Avrotros, NBC News and the Associated Press. The staff produced an in-depth, international look at how lax oversight allows the use of faulty implants, including mesh, hip replacements and electronic heart devices.

Lesley McClurg of public radio station KQED-San Francisco won in the contest’s beat category for a range of stories. Her radio pieces included looks at the struggles of sex-harassment victims; hope for patients with advanced skin cancer; and efforts to help families with rare diseases. The judges wrote that McClurg, “offers moving personal stories while at the same time seeking out experts who provide needed perspective and caveats.”

Rebecca Moss won the large-outlet portion of the public health category for coverage published by the Santa Fe New Mexican and ProPublica exposing safety problems at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The stories showed how the lab has made it hard for workers to obtain compensation for radiation-linked cancers. Moss also showed how the lab has faced more than $110 million in fines and lost performance bonuses for serious accidents, radiation exposure, and other lapses since 2006.

The entries were judged by several dozen volunteers, who are current or retired journalists or journalism professors.

“The contest winners showed how to dig into what’s making Americans sick, and how profit motives are distorting their care,” said contest co-chair Tony Leys, a Des Moines Register reporter and AHCJ board member.

The contest committee also includes co-chair Julie Appleby and AHCJ members Blythe Bernhard, Carrie Feibel and Cate Vojdik.

The awards will be presented during a luncheon on May 4 at Health Journalism 2019, the association’s annual conference, taking place this year in Baltimore. First-place winners will receive $500 plus registration and hotel accommodations at the conference.

See the complete list of winners here, and read questionnaires in which the winners explained how they produced their work.