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.

The 2017 application/nomination process is now closed. The winner/finalist(s) will be announced in mid-May 2017 and the award will be presented at the Academy's 2017 Annual Gala on June 13.

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, and Dean and 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

2016 Prize Winner: Alana Semuels

Alana Semuels of The Atlantic was selected as the winner of the 2016 Urban Health Journalism Prize for her article “Aging Pipes Are Poisoning America’s Tap Water” (July 29, 2015).

Ms. Semuels' article was one of the earliest in-depth looks at the Flint, MI water crisis and was judged to be the best among many excellent articles on one of the biggest urban health stories of the year. Her comprehensive research and firsthand stories from some of the most seriously affected people of Flint came through in her well-written article. Her approach underscores the importance of reporting the impact of urban health issues including the voices of those directly affected.

Alana Semuels is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she travels the country looking for good stories about economics, poverty, wealth, segregation, education, and housing. She was previously a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, based in New York City, and a California economics correspondent for that publication. Ms. Semuels has also worked for the Boston Globe and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She has a MSc in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and a BA in history and literature from Harvard College.



“Guilty of mental illness”
(April 27, 2015)

Deborah L. Shelton is the Managing Editor of The Chicago Reporter. For most of her career, she covered health, science and medicine. Her work today focuses on the nexus of health and other social issues, with a strong emphasis on race and poverty. She was a health reporter at the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and St. Louis Post-Dispatch and later served on the Post-Dispatch Editorial Board, writing about social justice issues. Her April 27, 2015 article, “Guilty of mental illness,” highlights the criminalization of low-income people of color with mental illness, who represent the vast majority of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail, one of the nation's largest pre-trial detention centers.

“How Do We Protect New York City’s Pedestrians?”
(April 23, 2015)

Photo Credit: Kathy Ryan, The New York Times Magazine
Susan Dominus has been a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine since 2011 where she writes in-depth stories on a wide range of topics. Prior to 2007, she worked as a metro columnist for The New York Times and was a member of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News for its coverage of the scandal that led to Governor Eliot Spitzer’s resignation. Her April 23, 2015 article, “How Do We Protect New York City’s Pedestrians?” takes an in-depth look at how city planners and officials are attempting to keep New York City’s pedestrians safe and healthy.


“A Sheriff And A Doctor Team Up To Map Childhood Trauma” (March 10, 2015)
Laura Starecheski is a reporter and producer for Reveal at The Center for Investigative Reporting. She was previously a health reporter on NPR's Science Desk. She also worked as a staffer at NPR’s State of the Re:Union, where she was part of a team that won a 2014 National Edward R. Murrow award and a Peabody. Her March 10, 2015 segment, “A Sheriff And A Doctor Team Up To Map Childhood Trauma,” part of NPR’s “What Shapes Health" series, looks at an unlikely team of problem solvers – a doctor and a sheriff – who attempted to find and protect Gainesville, Florida’s most vulnerable children.

Press Release

Previous Recipients

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 >