Tag Archives: Kaiser Health News

WYPR Features Capital News Service, Kaiser Health News Investigation

"Home Sick" Baltimore asthma project

A University of Maryland Capital News Service and Kaiser Health News Investigation into asthma rates in low-income Baltimore neighborhoods was the subject of a WYPR radio segment that aired Monday morning.

The segment aired on the Baltimore NPR affiliate’s “On the Record” program and included an interview with Philip Merrill College of Journalism alumna Talia Richman (’17), a reporter on the project. A former editor and writer at The Diamondback, she is now an education reporter at The Baltimore Sun.

A CNS and Kaiser review of some 10 million inpatient and emergency room cases found that residents in one Baltimore neighborhood — a short distance from world-renowned medical institutions — suffer from asthma at more than four times the rate of people in the city’s wealthier areas.

The project grew out of Merrill College Professor Sandy Banisky‘s urban affairs reporting class and Capital News Service director Sean Mussenden‘s data bureau.

Banisky and Mussenden worked with Tom Bettag, the college’s Eleanor Merrill Distinguished Visiting Fellow, and Merrill College students Naema Ahmed, Helen Lyons (M.J. ’17), Richman and others.

The project has been published by The Washington Post and The Sun.

Capital News Service is the college’s student-powered news organization. CNS has bureaus in College Park, Annapolis and Washington — all run by professional journalists.

The investigation was conducted in partnership with Kaiser Health News, including senior correspondent Jay Hancock and reporter Rachel Bluth (M.J. ’16). Hancock was also interviewed during the Monday WYPR segment.

Douglas Birch and Doug Kapustin also contributed to the project.

In Poor Health Series Wins Major NABJ Collegiate Award

CNS & Baltimore Urban Reporting Class with Tom Bettag and Kaiser Health News present "In Poor Health - health care disparities around Freddie Gray's Neighborhood."

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (August 16) – Merrill College’s urban affairs reporting class (Professor Sandy Banisky), Capital News Service (CNS Digital Bureau Chief Sean Mussenden) and Visiting Fellow Tom Bettag were named National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) “Salute to Excellence” winners Aug. 12 in the Online Collegiate “Use of Multimedia – Special Project category.”

The award was announced during an awards gala in New Orleans during NABJ’s national convention.

The award was for “In Poor Health: Why is Baltimore’s world-renowned health system struggling to keep Freddie Gray’s neighbors – some of the cities poorest residents – from getting sick?” The series was produced in concert with Kaiser Health News and received widespread coverage around the U.S. and the world.

In a post on Facebook, Dean Lucy Dalglish said, “I’m very proud to be representing the college in New Orleans tonight!”

The investigative series has won (and been nominated for) numerous awards over the past year including:


New York Academy of Medicine Awards Freddie Grey Neighborhood Series Major Award

Freddie Grey's Neighborhood Series wins major award.

Adapted from a NYAM press release.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (May 31) – The New York Academy of Medicine this week awarded Kaiser Health News reporter Jay Hancock its Urban Health Journalism Prize for a collaborative series looking at health disparities in Baltimore.

To produce the five-part series – called “Health Care in Freddie Gray’s Neighborhood: Baltimore’s Other Divide” – Kaiser Health News formed a unique partnership with Merrill College’s student-driven Capital News Service (CNS). With Jay Hancock as the lead reporter, the team produced text stories, graphics and photos, published on the sites of KHN, CNS, PBS and NPR, and a broadcast piece by KHN’s Sarah Varney that aired on NewsHour.

“Many at CNS contributed significantly to the project, including Rachel Bluth, who has since been hired at KHN,” said John Fairhall, Senior Enterprise Editor, Kaiser Health News. “And freelance photographer Doug Kapustin’s photographs helped bring to life the community.”

CNS created a stand-alone website to highlight its coverage in the series.

Jay Hancock joined Kaiser Health News in 2012 after working for nearly two decades at the Baltimore Sun, where he covered business, economics and international relations. He has spent much of the last two years researching and reporting poor health outcomes and barriers to care in lower-income Baltimore. He has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Colgate University and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University.Tweet by Rafael Lorente.

“Each year the selection of our winner and finalists becomes more competitive. As journalists are increasingly writing about the determinants of health and their impact on the overall health of people in communities, our job in identifying the winner and finalists gets harder and harder,” said Boufford. “This year’s finalists took on  critical issues with excellent storytelling and investigative skill that made our job on the review and selection committee a pleasure,” she added.

A leader in urban health, the Academy established the Urban Health Journalism Prize in 2015 to recognize and encourage the growing field of journalism that plays a critical role in bringing needed local, national and even international focus to the issues of the broad determinants of health, health disparities, and strategies to prevent disease in urban communities. The award will be presented at the Academy Gala on June 13 in New York City, and comes with a cash prize of $5,000.

A Capital News Service / Kaiser Health Investigation: Baltimore – In Poor Health

In Poor Health CNS/Kaiser Health News Investigation. Photo by Iman Smith/Capital News Service.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Why is Baltimore’s world-renowned health system struggling to keep Freddie Gray’s neighbors – some of the city’s poorest residents – from getting sick?

The question is central to a new investigation by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s student-powered news service, the Capital News Service, in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

The ongoing collaborative investigation began during the fall, 2015 semester and involved Merrill College students in a number of classes:

  • Abell Professor Sandy Banisky’s Baltimore Urban Reporting Class;
  • Adjunct Rob Wells’ JOUR328R/JOUR628R Special Topics in News Writing and Reporting; Business Reporting class;
  • The CNS Online Bureau and Bureau Director Sean Mussenden – which developed the In Poor Health website and created the graphics that are being used along with the stories and
  • Students Nate Kresh and Micha Green produced videos and conducted taped interviews in support of the series under the direction of Eleanor Merrill Distinguished Visiting Fellow Tom Bettag:



Professor Banisky said, “What surprised me was that people in West Baltimore, people all over the city, know there’s better health care available and they know they deserve better health care and it makes them really angry to understand that the system is not set up to help them more easily.”

Merrill College students who took part in the investigative series included: Ellie Silverman, Matt Present, Jamie Rapp, Carrie Snurr, Christopher Cox, Jake Bacher, Madeleine Deason, Joey Trull, Rose Creasman Welcome, Jordan Branch, Auburn Mann, Naema Ahmed, Marina di Marzo, Catherine Sheffo, Alex Bayline, Nate Kresh, Rachel Bluth, Rachel Greenwald, Micha Green, Brittany Britto, Lauren Burns, Nora Tarabishi, Iman Smith, Ellie Silverman and Amanda Eisenberg.

For Eisenberg, the stories really emphasized how difficult it can be to get basic health services when you’re poor:

“The problems with health care seem like they have easy solutions,” she said. “Get an annual checkup, don’t eat fried food, try to walk outside. Easy, simple things. As I immersed myself in the community to work on this project, I learned that something as easy as going to your doctor isn’t so easy for many people. You might have to wait hours before you are seen, only to have the doctor brush you off or talk down to you. If you have a minimum-wage job, you can’t take off work to go see a doctor. You might not be able to afford the co-pay or have the means to get to the office; just getting to the doctor might take two hours on three separate buses. I hope our stories shed light on the hurdles Baltimore residents regularly deal with.”

Wide Ranging Coverage

A list of some of the major news outlets covering the “In Poor Health” series.

Kaiser Health News

Baltimore Sun Editorial: “The health care gap” cites the CNS series and gives it an “A” grade.
Washington Post – provided a link to the blood pressure cuff story in its health pages.

The PBS Newshour produced a news story broadcast Monday, Feb. 15 based on a story by Kaiser Heath News reporter Jay Hancock:

WBUR-FM (Boston NPR) conducted a “Here and Now” interview with Kaiser Health’s Jay Hancock on Tuesday, Feb. 16: