The NIHCM Foundation, a member of MIF since 2019, funds health care journalism that examines issues impacting the United States health care system and consumers, such as access to care, cost and quality, and equity. The impact of its investments can be seen in work such as “The Aftermath,” a Vox series about the collateral health effects of Covid-19. A recent NIHCM-supported story in the series, “The Doctors Are Not All Right,” confronted the devastating mental health toll that COVID-19 has taken on doctors around the country.
This is the kind of high-quality journalism to which NIHCM is committed. That’s why, for the second year, NIHCM is making $1 million available to support new awards in journalism and research. The deadline to apply is July 12.
In this Q&A, Nancy Chockley, founding President and CEO of the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation, and Kathryn Santoro, Director of Programming, share details about NIHCM’s commitment to supporting high-quality health journalism.
Media Impact Funders (MIF): NIHCM is an organization dedicated to transforming health care. How does media fit into that goal?
Nancy Chockley: We see supporting top media organizations as an essential part of our work to advance improvements in health and health care. Last year, we increased our commitment to our grantees by awarding $1 million between our journalism and research programs, for the first time in our history.
We realize that by offering journalists enhanced educational opportunities and the resources needed to do in-depth reporting, we are also combating misinformation about health and helping the media thrive in an increasingly challenging financial environment. Our director of programming, Kathryn Santoro, does an exceptional job of spearheading this work and advancing our journalism grant program.
The National Institute for Health Care Management’s [NIHCM] core mission is to build the evidence base, share important insights, and inform the public and business leaders about health. Journalists are natural partners for us in that work.
MIF: How has your approach to media changed over time?
Nancy Chockley: For more than 20 years, we saw the winners of our journalism awards changing policies and changing lives. About six years ago, we observed the tremendous financial challenges journalists were facing and we decided to place a greater emphasis on sustaining and adding to this positive impact. To achieve that, we launched our journalism grant program in 2014.
We continue to survey the media landscape and evolve to support the new ways that journalists inform the public. The best example of this would be our creation of a Digital Media Award category to recognize exceptional work that maximizes the value of digital communication.
We continue to seek ways to support work produced and delivered in the many new ways people consume the news.
MIF: What are some key takeaways from your past support and are there any particular grantees you’d want to highlight?
Kathryn Santoro: What we see consistently is the impact—the sheer power of high-quality health journalism. This past year, one of our grantees, the Pulitzer Prize-winning team at Undark/Scientific American, revealed the devastating health and financial costs of consolidated kidney dialysis center ownership. This business practice is increasing racial disparities in access to potentially life-saving kidney dialysis and treatment.
Our grantee, nurse and author Theresa Brown, captured the impact of COVID-19 on nurses nationwide in a feature in the Sunday New York Times. Her work greatly increased understanding of the burnout, growing shortages and hospital business practices that harm nurses and may put patients at risk and raise health care costs.
As journalists raced to understand and write about COVID-19, our grantee, the Harvard-based The Journalist’s Resource, produced comprehensive materials on the virus and on how to use peer-reviewed research for reporting. They reach an audience of more than 52,000 people.
Two of our other journalism education grantees—the University of Southern California/ Annenberg Center for Health Journalism and the Alliance for Health Policy—connect journalists with researchers to help them learn more about topics that include prescription drug pricing, the Affordable Care Act, and the impact of racism on health.
MIF: What are your goals in the next year to 5 years?
Nancy Chockley: To continue to ensure that important health and health care journalism topics are covered and shared with the public as fully as possible. We want to be sure that our grants respond to journalist’s needs and the shifting media landscape.
MIF: What do you want your funding peers to know about your work?
Kathryn Santoro: Interest in NIHCM’s journalism grant program far outstrips our ability to fund important work and we are always interested in working with other funders to ensure these stories are told.
NIHCM journalism grants are open until July 12. Apply here.