The coronavirus pandemic exposed the limits of California’s preparation for a public health crisis and laid bare the stark impacts of racial and income inequality in the state. But public health has long been at a center of some of our biggest political fights, from a single-payer health care system to mandatory vaccines. This category recognizes exceptional reporting on public health issues including health care access, mental health, substance abuse and food security, as well as the effects of and the government response to the coronavirus pandemic. Submissions can be a single outstanding story or up to three pieces that demonstrate a command of the beat, in any format including text, audio or video.
“Opioid Overdoses In the City,” San Francisco Chronicle
Trisha did an exceptional job of executing and displaying her many talents as a reporter: Her project was powerful in its investigative reporting, interviewing, narrative writing, data journalism and visual storytelling. Hers was a story that needed to be told, and she did so in a way that needed to be read.
In three compelling reports, Trisha Thadani of the San Francisco Chronicle details the human and societal toll that rampant drug use and overdoses have cost the city. Her portrait of one young man’s failed attempt to get off the streets is backed up by a digital map showing he was not alone in his struggle, while even one of San Francisco’s largest hospitals is overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem.
Anna Maria Barry-Jester and Angela Hart
“Hard Lives Made Harder By Covid,” Kaiser Health News
Anna Maria and Angela spun a beautifully crafted, heart-tugging saga, bolstered by solid reporting, interviewing and numbers crunching. It accomplishes that rarity in storytelling today — compelling long-form journalism that truly holds government accountable.
Kaiser Health News reporters delved into destructive swath that the coronavirus pandemic carved into California, from an upending of state efforts to alleviate homelessness to data failures in contract tracing programs that were aimed at saving lives.
Megan Cassidy and Jason Fagone
“California Prison Inmates and COVID-19,” San Francisco Chronicle
Megan and Jason did an impressive job of convincing readers that they should care about the health and well being of California’s state prisoners, including those on death row. To that end, they were successful with some of the most difficult reporting and interviewing that can be done — connecting with prisoners and prison officials behind the walls and inside the cells of California’s notoriously closed state prisons.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Megan Cassidy and Jason Fagone repeatedly held California corrections officials accountable for missteps in their response to the coronavirus pandemic among the state’s prison population. Their reports showed how state officials repeatedly put prisoners at greater risk for contracting the disease.
“High-Poverty Neighborhoods Bear the Brunt of COVID’s Scourge,” California Healthline
Phillip is one of the true masters of data-driven journalism in California, and this project is a solid example of his effective use of numbers crunching as a means to an end.
Phillip Reese’s extensive use of data for California Healthline provided numerical proof that the coronavirus pandemic was disproportionally infecting and killing residents of the state’s poor and minority communities, the same people who often put themselves at greater risk by working jobs deemed essential.
Ken Chavez, director of media and community relations, Sunnylands, and former senior editor, The Sacramento Bee; Mitchel Benson, MDBenson07 Communications and former Wall Street Journal and San Jose Mercury News Capitol bureaus; and Michelle Raghavan, Center for Health Journalism