New York (May 13, 2015) – The New York Academy of Medicine announced today that Brie Zeltner of the Cleveland daily, The Plain Dealer, is the winner of its inaugural Urban Health Journalism Prize for her September 30, 2014 article, “More than half of Cleveland kids live in poverty, and it's making them sick.” This first of its kind award will be presented at the Academy Gala on June 9th in New York City, and comes with a cash prize of $5,000. In addition, two journalists were named finalists and also will be recognized. The winner and finalists were selected by a prestigious committee of journalism, government and urban health leaders. 

A leader in urban health, the Academy established The Urban Health Journalism Prize to highlight superior coverage on topics addressing the distinct health issues and needs of people living in cities. With the rise in stories and outlets dedicated to city life, the prize will recognize and encourage more thoughtful coverage and the inclusion of health in reporting on urban issues across all media platforms.  

“Ms. Zeltner’s article represents the best of a growing field of reporting in urban health,” said New York Academy of Medicine President Jo Ivey Boufford, M.D. “Her in-depth research and solution-oriented look at the health challenges of a large portion of Cleveland’s kids living in poverty, is a prime example of the importance of this kind of thoughtful reporting on the complex and multifaceted health issues faced by people in cities around the world.” 

The award will be 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. In particular, the award will honor articles or produced pieces examining cities’ impact on health, social determinants of health, health disparities, and prevention efforts at local and national levels.

“What gets me excited [about reporting on this issue] is helping people understand that there is not this division between us and them,” said Prize winner Brie Zeltner of The Plain Dealer. “While it takes time, effort and support to do these types of stories, the long-term health effects of living in cities and in an environment of poverty is an important area that we should be paying special attention to,” she said. “I have eighteen pages of other stories I want to write on these issues, and I’m thankful to The Plain Dealer for letting me go after them.” 

The two finalists are: 

Olga Khazan, The Atlantic. For her May 21, 2014 article, “How Being Poor Makes You Sick.”

Mike Maciag, Governing. For his August, 2014 article, “Pedestrians Dying at Disproportionate Rates in America's Poorer Neighborhoods.”

“Because more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, we have an obligation to build awareness about health issues specific to people in cities, and to be thoughtful about the urban health governance it takes to create a healthy environment,” Boufford said.  “These three stories reflect the high-quality journalism that is needed to help shine a light on the complexity of urban health issues, the solutions that are needed, and the leaders who are working to implement them.

The winner and finalists were selected out of hundreds of eligible stories pulled from local and national print, radio and television, by a prestigious committee of leading experts in urban health, journalism and city government who are passionate about improving cities and health. They based their selection on excellence in three areas: the significance of the idea to the field of urban health, the depth and breadth of the reporting, and the quality of the writing. 

2015 Selection Committee

Len Bruzzese, Director of the Association of Health Care Journalists, and Associate Professor, Missouri School of Journalism

The Honorable Mick Cornett, Mayor, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Shelley Hearne, DrPH, Director, Big Cities Health Coalition, National Association of County and City Health Officials

Howard Markel, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief, The Milbank Quarterly, George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor and Founding Director, Center for the History of Medicine, The University of Michigan 

David Vlahov, RN, PhD, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Urban Health, and Dean and Professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing

Jonathan Weiner, Maxwell M. Geffen Professor of Medical and Scientific Journalism, Columbia Journalism School

The 2016 prize will be chosen from 2015 print and broadcast stories.