This year's Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting went to Marilynn Marchione of the Associated Press. The annual award is presented by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. From the CASW press release :
Marchione’s wide-ranging daily and in-depth consumer health coverage has sought to bring medical science findings to readers in a way that is relevant to their own health choices. She was recognized for her insight and narrative skills as reflected in stories on the overuse of diagnostic radiation, the hazards of alternative medicine, the plight of severely wounded U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq, a preview of the world’s first face transplants, and the dangers of soda increasing obesity.
As Paul Raeburn of the Knight Science Journalism Tracker points out, the wide distribution of AP articles makes Marchione's achievement particularly significant:
As Dan Haney, a former Cohn Prize winner and medical editor of the AP puts it, Marchione’s stories “are clear, nuanced, graceful and dead-on accurate.” That’s no small praise from Haney, a master of the art himself. And when the AP is nuanced, graceful, and dead-on accurate, the consequences are huge. We used to say at the AP that we reached a billion readers or listeners a day. For all I know, it could be twice that now. Whatever it is, Marchione’s reporting is enlightening and serving a vast populace.
By virtue of both her position and her ability, she has a huge influence on medical reporting in the U.S. and around the world.
Considering that a lot of health news reported in the main stream media (at least what I usually see) seems to be minimally reworked press releases, it's refreshing to see a writer with "insight and narrative skills" whose work is broadly distributed.
A few of Marchione's articles:
- 60% of cancer patients try nontraditional medicines, supplements
Some people who try unproven remedies risk only money. But people with cancer can lose their only chance of beating the disease by skipping conventional treatment or by mixing in other therapies. Even harmless-sounding vitamins and "natural" supplements can interfere with cancer medicines or affect hormones that help cancer grow.
- Genetic disease testing leads some adults not to have kids
Genetic testing pushes hot-button issues: abortion, embryo destruction and worries about eugenics — selective breeding to rid a population of unwanted traits. Yet it is touching a growing number of people
- How far would you go for your son? Vet's parents find out
Joseph Briseno Jr., Eva's 27-year-old son, is one of the most severely wounded soldiers ever to survive. A bullet to the back of his head in a Baghdad marketplace in 2003 left him paralyzed, brain-damaged and blind, but awake and aware of his condition.Eva takes care of "Jay" in her suburban Virginia home where the family room has been transformed into an intensive care unit, with the breathing machine and tubes he needs to stay alive. Try to imagine this life.
You can get an RSS feed of Marchione's articles through Google News (identical articles are clustered together, so you shouldn't see the same ones dozens of times.)