Medical Stories Take Four Pulitzers

Investigations of health/ethics issues carry the day

Four health/medical series won Pulitzer Prizes yesterday. The Washington Post’s Dana Priest, Annie Hull and photographer Michel du Cille received the public service award for their stories about mistreatment of wounded veterans at Walter Reed Hospital. Walt Bogdanich and Jake Hooker of The New York Times and the staff of the Chicago Tribune took awards for investigative reporting. Bogdanich and Hooker won for their stories on toxic ingredients in consumer products imported from China and poor governmental regulation; the Trib won for its stories exposing faulty government regulation of baby products. In the explanatory reporting category, The New York Times’s Amy Harmon carried the award for her stories about the ethical dilemmas surrounding DNA testing.

Cristine Russell, the president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and a senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, wrote about the Post’s Walter Reed series and the Times’s toxic imports series last month when they were finalists for the prestigious Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. As Russell correctly pointed out in that column, the Goldsmith nominations are often a “preview” of the Pulitzers. On Friday, Russell will have her analysis of this week’s top-prize winners and why investigative and explanatory journalism is so important to the field of the health and medicine.

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Curtis Brainard writes on science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.