Covering infant mortality’s grip in South Carolina

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at

Photo: sean dreilinger via Flickr

Photo: sean dreilinger via Flickr

Journalists Doug Pardue and Lauren Sausser of The Post and Courier in South Carolina almost saw their story, about tackling the perpetually high infant deaths in their southern state, slip away when officials released updated statistics that appeared to show the problem ebbing.

But a closer look at the data — and its geographical divide — showed that the overall numbers weren’t really what they seemed. What resulted when Pardue, part of the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning team this year, and Sausser, also an award-winning reporter, teamed up was a powerful investigative series on the tight hold of South Carolina’s infant mortality rate and a deeper look at where the state was getting it right, and where it wasn’t.

Here’s how they did it.

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