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AP’s Marchione wins Victor Cohn Prize

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

AHCJ member Marilynn Marchione, a senior medical writer at The Associated Press, is the recipient of the 2010 Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Journalism from the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

The award is for a body of work published or broadcast within the past five years. The organization describes Marchione’s work as “compelling and enterprising reporting for a worldwide audience.” The judges were “impressed by Marchione’s authoritative approach to timely medical issues and her ability to juggle the demands of day-to-day wire service coverage with in-depth reporting that is rich in human interest.”

Marchione’s wide-ranging daily and in-depth consumer health coverage has sought to bring medical science findings to readers in a way that is relevant to their own health choices. She was recognized for her insight and narrative skills as reflected in stories on the overuse of diagnostic radiation, the hazards of alternative medicine, the plight of severely wounded U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq, a preview of the world’s first face transplants, and the dangers of soda increasing obesity.

Marchione became a medical writer for AP in 2004 after 28 years as a reporter and editor at metropolitan daily newspapers in Milwaukee, Chicago and Akron, Ohio. In 2000, she had a four-month Knight Journalism Fellowship in epidemiology at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has had fellowships in public health, genetics and other topics. She moderated a panel at Health Journalism 2010 on “Guidelines for writing about preventive health guidelines” and spoke on a panel about “Assessing claims of functional foods and nutritional supplements.”

The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing is a not-for-profit organization of journalists and scientists committed to improving the quality of science news reaching the public. The Cohn award was established in 2000 and honors the late Washington Post medical writer and health columnist Victor Cohn.

Related

Cohn’s reform-minded blog comes to an end

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The New Republic‘s Jonathan Cohn, an AHCJ member, announced Monday that he’s closing up shop at The Treatment, the “crusading” pro-health-care-reform blog he’s run since 2006. Cohn will keep blogging and writing for the magazine, but seems ready to close the reform chapter of his health care reporting and hang a big “mission accomplished” banner across the widely read blog.

Cohn used the occasion of this semi-farewell to reflect on the course journalism has taken during the reform debate, and to contrast it with prior experiences, most pointedly Clinton’s push for health care reform and his own magazine’s notorious role in the debate. In particular, Cohn considers the changes brought on by “new online media” and bloggers like himself and The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein, with whom Cohn says he collaborated as much as he competed.

In addition to The New York Times and CNN, there was the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo. The change didn’t fully register with me until the night the House passed the Senate health care bill, clearing reform for presidential signature. Sitting up in the House media gallery, next to Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown, I looked around at my colleagues—and realized how few of them would have been there last time around.

Was this a change for the better? I’m biased, obviously, but with some important caveats I think the answer is “yes.” We (i.e., the new online media) could generally channel policy expertise more quickly. And we could, in some cases, dispense with conventions of even-handedness—conventions that cynics had long ago learned to exploit for their own purposes.

Writing for CJR.org, AHCJ Immediate Past President Trudy Lieberman praised Cohn’s blog, but took the opportunity to remind journalists that, while a reform bill may have passed, that doesn’t mean there aren’t myriad issues related to its implementation that will need intense coverage and scrutiny in the coming years. She also talked to Cohn and found that he isn’t leaving the game entirely.

Cohn told me that when health reform was the political story of the day, the magazine “could afford to let me write on that subject exclusively and dedicate an entire blog to it. Now that it’s no longer topic A, it makes sense for me to write about some other things.” He said he will be doing just that. While the magazine is officially retiring The Treatment as a blog exclusively devoted to health care, Cohn and The New Republic are talking about creating a new blog that will include health care coverage.