The Association of Health Care Journalists announced this week that ProPublica won three first-place honors in its Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.
“Inside the Fall of the CDC” won in the investigative category. Reported by James Bandler, Patricia Callahan, Sebastian Rotella and Kirsten Berg, the story provided a comprehensive look at meddling inside the CDC by a White House determined to prioritize the president’s message over public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. From botched COVID-19 tests to line-by-line edits that President Donald Trump’s advisers made to official health guidance, the reporting shed new light on the missteps and repeated capitulations made by some of the government’s top scientists. Judges called the project “an exercise in extensive and detailed reporting on the biggest public policy issue of the year. ProPublica documented with emails, public records, and dogged interviewing a story that many thought they knew but couldn’t nail down.”
“On the Line: How the Meatpacking Industry Became a Hotbed of COVID-19” won in the business category. The series, by Michael Grabell and Bernice Yeung, found that meat companies’ mismanagement of the pandemic, combined with the federal government’s failure to ensure that plants took appropriate precautions, have contributed to the pandemic’s dramatic toll on meatpacking workers and their communities. Among other findings, the investigation showed how elected officials have intervened to keep meatpacking plants running despite efforts by public health departments to temporarily close facilities to contain the virus, and how the meatpacking industry ignored years of pandemic warnings from the federal government. “ProPublica overcame resistance of state and local officials to release public records to compile a database that shows 50,000 cases of COVID-19 among meatpacking workers,” said contest judges.
“The Black American Amputation Epidemic” by Lizzie Presser won in the health policy category. The story detailed how Black Americans with diabetes lose limbs at a rate triple that of others, a sign that quality preventive care isn’t reaching the people who need it most. After the story’s publication, the American Diabetes Association unveiled a new initiative to prevent unnecessary amputations as part of an unprecedented campaign on race and diabetes care. “This is a highly original example of one reporter’s dogged determination, journalistic skills, and poignant story telling that revealed a deeply embedded pattern of structural racism, inept regulatory policies, and medical mistreatment that subjected countless African-Americans to unnecessary diabetes-related amputations,” contest judges said.
See a list of all the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism winners here.