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The 27th Annual NIHCM Awards

The bold, high-impact NIHCM award winners of 2021 covered the early plight and shocking mortality rates among so many on the frontline in health care, food processing plants, and public services during the pandemic. Investigations looked into mental health during COVID-19 and the rapid, scientific advances against the virus, as well as research on preventing surprise emergency medical costs.


“In this 27th year of NIHCM supporting journalists and researchers, we were proud to invest more than $1 million through our Award and Grant programs and further our commitment to their important work. We commend our winners for stepping up to reveal the untold stories of the pandemic and continuing to do pioneering research.”

Nancy Chockley

Founding President and CEO, NIHCM Foundation

2021 General Circulation Journalism Award

Michael Grabell

Bernice Yeung

Photo credit: public record

NIHCM 2021 General Circulation Journalism Award Winner

How Global Meatpacking Companies Exposed Workers and Communities to COVID-19 While Government Agencies Failed to Protect Them

Michael Grabell and Bernice Yeung

Prize: $20,000

“It was gratifying to see our work influence public policy in Washington. Even more meaningful was a note we received from a nurse who had cared for the COVID-19 patients in one of our stories: ‘I will never forget these peoples’ faces, the sound of their voices...before we intubated them, speaking with their families, and of course so many of their deaths,’ she said. ‘Thank you for making them real and bringing their names and stories to the public.'”

— Michael Grabell and Bernice Yeung

William Wan

William Wan

NIHCM 2021 General Circulation Journalism Award Winner

Shadow Pandemic

William Wan

Prize: $20,000

“Mental illness thrives on isolation, shame and societal disregard. I’m so grateful to the families who selflessly shared with me their moments of pain and anguish in hopes of helping others. They helped make real change possible.”

— William Wan


2021 Television and Radio Journalism Award

CBS Production Team

Andrew Bast

Photo credit: Gilad Thaler

NIHCM 2021 Television and Radio Journalism Award Winner

Bravery and Hope: 7 Days on the Front Line

Susan Zirinsky, Guy Campanile, Mitch Weitzner, CBS News Bravery and Hope team

Prize: $20,000

“There was so much bad information [in the early weeks] about COVID-19, we knew the only anecdote to the misinformation was providing a platform for nurses, administrators, patients and doctors to tell their own stories about the catastrophe they were witnessing. We were honored to give them that opportunity.”

— Guy Campanile


Daffodil J. Altan

Andrés Cediel

Photo credit: Tadashi Suarez/Frontline

NIHCM 2021 Television and Radio Journalism Honorable Mention

COVID’s Hidden Toll

Daffodil Altan, Andrés Cediel, María José Calderón, Frank Koughan, Andrew Metz and Raney Aronson-Rath

Prize: $5,000

“To the farm and meatpacking workers who for the past year have been putting their lives on the line to keep us fed, this film was and is for you. May you receive the protection, the justice, and the respect you deserve.”

— Daffodil J. Altan and Andrés Cediel


2021 Digital Media Award

Christina Jewett

Danielle Renwick

credit: Lydia Zuraw/KHN

NIHCM 2021 Digital Media Award Winner

Lost on the Frontline

Christina Jewett, Danielle Renwick, Alastair Gee and the Lost on the Frontline team

Prize: $20,000

“The government wasn’t counting or investigating health care worker deaths, so journalists filled the void.”

— Elisabeth Rosenthal, KHN’s editor-in-chief


2021 Trade Journalism Award

Antonio Regalado

credit: Selman Design

NIHCM 2021 Trade Journalism Award Winner

The Antibody Drugs Made Against COVID-19

Antonio Regalado

Prize: $15,000

“We showed that, like vaccines, antibodies are triumphs of modern biotech.”

— Antonio Regalado


2021 Research Award

Zack Cooper

Fiona Scott Morton

Nathan Shekita

NIHCM 2021 Research Award Winner

Surprise! Out-of-Network Billing for Emergency Care in the United States

Zack Cooper, Fiona Scott Morton and Nathan Shekita

Prize: $20,000

“After years of studying surprise billing, at the end of the day, we really just wanted to produce a paper that would help the public–to do good.”

— Zack Cooper


Congratulate our winners and share their stories! #NIHCMAwards2021

NIHCM also provides $1 million in grants each year to support the work of journalists and researchers. We invite you to learn more.

The winning entries were selected from more than 400 entries by our panels of independent judges. As is the case every year, we received many remarkable entries. Learn more about the finalists' impressive work.


our Judges

A special thank you to our judges listed below.

2021 General Circulation Journalism Award

  • Eliza Barclay
  • John Carreyrou
  • Ceci Connolly
  • John Fauber
  • Clifton Leaf
  • Fred Schulte
  • William Wan

2021 Television and Radio Journalism Award

  • Callie Crossley
  • Susan Dentzer
  • Gisele Grayson
  • Stone Phillips
  • Alice Irene Pifer
  • Julie Rovner
  • Susan Wagner

2021 Digital Media Award

  • Julia Belluz
  • Aaron Carroll
  • Christopher J. Conover
  • Michael Millenson
  • Alan Murray
  • Sabriya Rice
  • Meredith White

2021 Trade Journalism Award

  • Eliza Barclay
  • John Carreyrou
  • Ceci Connolly
  • John Fauber
  • Clifton Leaf
  • Fred Schulte
  • William Wan

2021 Research Award

  • Laurence C. Baker
  • Tsung-Mei Cheng
  • Sherry Glied
  • Vicky Gregg
  • Joseph P. Newhouse
  • Mark Pauly
  • Gail R. Wilensky