News Release

KFF’s Kaiser Health News and “This American Life” Win Loeb Award For Story About the Threats and Menace Toward Local Public Health Officials During the Pandemic

KFF’s Kaiser Health News (KHN) and the radio program “This American Life” together have won a Loeb Award in the audio category for a deeply reported account of the threats and hate targeted at local public health officials during the covid-19 pandemic.

KHN’s coverage of public health issues will remain a priority beat in the newsroom long after the threat of covid fades. KFF will announce new partnerships and public health reporting plans in the coming months.

In ‘We’re Coming for You’: For Public Health Officials, a Year of Threats and Menace”, the two news organizations chronicled how health officers became the face of local government authority, illustrating through the lens of California’s Santa Cruz county how they became the targets of rage and resentment from loose-knit militia and white nationalist groups. The county, though widely viewed as liberal and progressive, saw an escalating succession of threats, capped by the cold-blooded killing of a sheriff’s deputy, that upended the lives of health leaders trying to navigate the covid response.

KHN senior correspondent Anna Maria Barry-Jester told the story of Dr. Gail Newel, Santa Cruz County’s health officer, and her boss, Mimi Hall, the county’s health services director, who soldiered on as debate over legitimate covid-related public health orders devolved into vitriol and intimidation. Their daily routines changed to incorporate security patrols, surveillance cameras and, in some cases, personal firearms.

This was KHN’s first collaboration with “This American Life.” Listen to the “This American Life” audio story, entitled “The Herd,” here. And read KHN’s companion digital story here.

The Loeb Awards, established in 1957 and considered the most prestigious honor in business and financial journalism, are administered by The G. and R. Loeb Foundation Inc. and the University of California at Los Angeles’s Anderson School of Management. This is KHN’s third Loeb Award.

About KFF and KHN

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis, Polling and Survey Research and Social Impact Media, KHN is one of the four major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

About This American Life

This American Life is an award-winning weekly public radio program and podcast hosted by Ira Glass. It is heard by 2 million listeners each week on over 500 public radio stations in the U.S., with another 2.8 million people downloading each episode as a podcast. The show is produced in collaboration with WBEZ Chicago and delivered to stations by PRX, Public Radio Exchange.



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The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.