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Picard honored for public policy journalism

André Picard, AHCJ member and longtime Globe and Mail health reporter, has earned this year’s Hyman Solomon Award for Excellence in Public Policy Journalism. The award is presented by the Public Policy Forum, an independent Canadian nonprofit. It comes on the heels of the 2010 National Newspaper Award that named Picard Canada’s best columnist.

Andre Picard

Andre Picard

If Picard isn’t already a fixture in your RSS reader, you can add http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/andre-picard/?service=rss or bookmark his Globe and Mail landing page.

For more from one of Canada’s finest, check out Angilee Shah’s Picard interview over at Reporting on Health. My favorite response came when Shah asked Picard, who has won his share of praise from advocacy groups, about the line between journalism and advocacy.

I don’t see myself as an advocate. I think the reason I’ve gotten those awards is because I’m one of a few people who write about those issues in a broad way. I’m one of the few people who write about cancer not just as a multiplication of cells, but what happens to people when they have cancer and run out of money. I write a lot about the practical stuff — so I think that’s what attracts the attention of advocacy groups. I don’t see myself as an advocate for any particular illness or cause. But I see myself as an advocate for good health policy, and those necessarily overlap.

Some of these groups are shocked that I’ll write a lot of columns about cancer and then I’ll write one very critical of cancer groups. They’ll say, “I thought you were on my side.” And I say, no, I’m on the side of good public health. When consumer groups fail, that needs to be exposed as just much as when governments fail. Groups don’t always understand that – but that’s the life of a journalist.