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Awards: Rules & How to Enter

AwardsCall for entries

Entries for the 2020 Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism have been accepted. The awards recognize the best health reporting in print, broadcast and online media across 12 categories.

Since 2004, the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism have recognized the best health reporting in print, broadcast and online media. The contest was created by journalists for journalists and is not influenced or funded by commercial or special-interest groups.

“The AHCJ contest highlights innovative reporting on health care, offering examples for all journalists of how to help the public understand these important and complicated issues,” said Tony Leys, AHCJ contest chair and a health care reporter for the Des Moines Register.

The contest retains its topic-based categories, where entries compete head-to-head no matter whether they appeared in magazines, newspapers, trade publications or on radio or television stations or websites.

CONTINUED THIS YEAR: Entries to the ‘student’ category must have been produced by students in undergraduate or graduate programs, and published in student-led or professional outlets. Work a student did as part of an internship is eligible, unless the student shared a byline with a professional colleague.


Entries can include a wide range of health coverage including public health, consumer health, medical research, the business of health care and health ethics. The topic categories include Business, Investigative, Consumer/Feature, Public Health and Health Policy. We have a category just for trade publications, although trade-published stories can also be entered in any of the topic categories. We have retained the beat reporting category from earlier contests, which is open to all mediums.


First-place winners earn $500, a framed certificate and complimentary lodging for two nights and registration for the annual conference in Austin. First-place winners will be recognized at the conference and will be encouraged to appear on panels to discuss their winning work.

Twelve award categories

Beat Reporting (all sizes)
An individual award for outstanding beat coverage aimed at showcasing the breadth and depth of the work. Judges will be looking for entries that include stories on a wide range of topics. Entrants should explain the beat on the questionnaire and may submit up to five stories, carrying a single byline. Only one story may be from a series. The same stories may also be submitted in other categories.

Health Policy (large and small division)
Stories that explore access to health care, medical quality and costs, as well as decisions about health care made by government, employers and other stakeholders

Public Health (large and small division)
Stories that deal with health – often of a large population – rather than specific medical research or a specific individual.

Trade (all sizes)
Articles from publications catering exclusively or primarily to specific groups, such as healthcare professionals, advocacy groups or organizations. Trade stories can also be entered in other categories, following rules on circulation size in those categories divided by size.

Business (all sizes)
Stories that explore where money and medicine intersect.

Investigative (large division and small division)
Stories that shed light on things the public should know, but government, private industry or others would rather remain secret

Consumer/Feature (large division and small division)
Stories that delve into difficult issues regarding illnesses, diseases, procedures or tests, as well as stories with a strong news-you-can- use focus.

Student Reporting
This category is for health-related stories produced by students in undergraduate or graduate programs for student-led outlets or, if published in a professional outlet, work done for a class.


Categories applying to "all sizes" will seek the best work in that topic category regardless of size.

Categories referring to "large division and small division" will judge work in that topic category against work from similar-sized newsrooms. Those size divisions are:


  • Newspapers above 100,000 circulation and their affiliated websites
  • Network or syndicated TV and radio
  • Local TV and radio in top 50 markets
  • National and regional online outlets, including blogs
  • Magazines above 500,000 circulation
  • Trade newsletters above 35,000 circulation
  • National or regional wire services
  • Any collaboration between large and small outlets


  • Newspapers below 100,000 and their affiliated websites
  • Local TV and radio in below-top-50 markets
  • Locally focused online outlets, including blogs
  • Magazines below 500,000 circulation
  • Trade newsletters below 35,000 circulation

Applicants employed by large category outlets need to enter in the large category even if the entered work appears in a smaller outlet affiliated with the employer.