The Academy established the first-of-its-kind Urban Health Journalism Prize in 2015 to be awarded annually for superior media coverage on topics addressing the distinct challenges and opportunities for the health of people living in cities. With the rise in stories and outlets dedicated to city life, the prize recognizes and encourages thoughtful coverage and the inclusion of health in reporting on urban issues across all media platforms.

The award is given each year to a journalist who has written or produced one or more in-depth stories or an analysis on any number of health issues unique to an urban setting, with particular attention to examining cities’ impact on health, social determinants of health, health disparities, healthy aging, and prevention efforts at local and national levels. The winner is selected by a prestigious committee of leading experts in urban health, journalism, and city government, who are passionate about improving cities and health.

2017 Selection Committee

Director, The Association of Health Care Journalists, and Associate Professor, Missouri School of Journalism
Editor-in-Chief, The Milbank Quarterly, George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor and Founding Director, Center for the History of Medicine, The University of Michigan
Mayor, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Staff Writer, The Atlantic, and 2016 Urban Health Journalism Prize Winner 
Medical Reporter, CBS News
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Urban Health, Professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing
Visiting Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Senior Advisor, Big Cities Health Coalition, National Association of County and City Health Officials
Health Reporter, The Plain Dealer, and 2015 Urban Health Journalism Prize Winner

2017 Prize Winner: Jay Hancock

Jay HancockKaiser Health News

Jay Hancock, Senior Correspondent at Kaiser Health News, was selected as the winner of the 2017 Urban Health Journalism Prize for the project “Health Care in Freddie Gray’s Neighborhood: Baltimore’s Other Divide.” 

After the toxic relationship between Baltimore’s police and minority communities became national news in 2015, Kaiser Health News (KHN) set out to examine another divisive relationship in the city, this one between residents and a vaunted health system. The series featured comprehensive analysis of the racial and geographic disparities that lead to major health disparities that often go overlooked in urban environments. The in-depth, on-the-ground reporting, led by Mr. Hancock, also featured major contributions from Sarah Varney of KHN, and the student-driven Capital News Service at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, with special acknowledgment to Rachel Bluth who has since been hired as a reporting fellow at KHN due to her excellent work on the project. 

Jay Hancock joined Kaiser Health News in 2012 after working for nearly two decades at the Baltimore Sun, where he covered business, economics and international relations. He has spent much of the last two years researching and reporting poor health outcomes and barriers to care in lower-income Baltimore. He has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Colgate University and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. 


Nancy Cambria
St. Louis Post-Dispatch


“The Crises Within”
(February 21, 2016)

Nancy Cambria was the children and families reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for more than a decade. Her stories focused on the region's most vulnerable children and families with an increasing emphasis on trauma and poverty. In the aftermath of protests and violence that erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, Cambria spent seven months reporting on children and families living the area. The report, “The Crisis Within: How toxic stress and trauma endanger our children,” focused on evolving research indicating inequity, poverty and violence can deeply impair child brain and physical development and lead to poor health outcomes in adulthood. The project offered numerous solutions to solve this public health issue and was later recognized in The New York Times as one of the nation’s top pieces of solutions journalism in 2016. Cambria has won numerous state and national awards for her reporting, including a 2017 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Reporting and a runner-up for the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Reporting on children and family issues. 

Michael Cooper
Springfield News-Sun

“Healthy Springfield
(2016 Series)

Michael Cooper is a staff writer at the Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun, a Cox Media Group Ohio publication. He covers city and county government, as well as public health. He began his career as a sports writer, where he won an Associated Press Sports Editors national contest for project reporting. He later joined the news staff as city reporter, where he writes stories and produces digital videos. He is a graduate of Wilmington (Ohio) College and Tiffin University. The Healthy Springfield series was also nominated for an Ohio Associated Press Managing Editors Best Public Service award. He’s also been a finalist for several other Ohio APME awards.

Liz Szabo


Zika could hit people in poverty the hardest” (June 30, 2016)
Liz Szabo is an enterprise reporter at Kaiser Health News focusing on acute care. She has an extensive background in medical reporting, including more than 12 years as a health writer at USA TODAY, where she led a year-long series on the neglect of people with mental illness. Her work for USA TODAY won the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting in 2016. Her investigation of dangerous doctors, written while working at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. in 2002, won two National Press Club awards and led Virginia lawmakers to toughen state laws for disciplining physicians.

Press Release

Previous Recipients

2016 Winner:

Alana SemuelsThe Atlantic, for her July 29, 2015 article, “Aging Pipes Are Poisoning America’s Tap Water.” read the article > 

2016 Finalists:

Deborah L. Shelton, The Chicago Reporter, for her April 27, 2015 article, “Guilty of mental illness.” read the article > 

Susan DominusThe New York Times, for her April 23, 2015 article, “How Do We Protect New York City’s Pedestrians?” read the article > 

Laura Starecheski, NPR, for her March 10, 2015 article, “A Sheriff And A Doctor Team Up To Map Childhood Trauma?” read the article > 

2015 Winner:

Brie ZeltnerThe Plain Dealer, for her September 30, 2014 article, “More than half of Cleveland kids live in poverty, and it's making them sick.” read the article > 

2015 Finalists:

Olga KhazanThe Atlantic, for her May 21, 2014 article, “How Being Poor Makes You Sick.”  read the article > 

Mike MaciagGoverning, for his August 2014 article, “Pedestrians Dying at Disproportionate Rates in America's Poorer Neighborhoods.” read the article >