MENLO PARK, Calif., – Today Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), announced the appointment of longtime, highly regarded New York Times health journalist Elisabeth “Libby” Rosenthal M.D., as the new editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News (KHN), the Kaiser Family Foundation’s nonprofit news service. KHN is a leading source for in-depth news on health care policy, providing explanatory and enterprise journalism and breaking news to the American people through a broad range of national and regional distribution partners and its website KHN.org. KHN is based in the Foundation’s Washington, D.C., facilities, and (like KFF overall which is based in Menlo Park, CA) is bicoastal, recently establishing a California Bureau. Rosenthal will start in early September.
“Throughout her career, Libby has been a leader in finding and reporting great health policy stories and explaining their impact on people,” said Drew Altman. “That focus on what health policy issues mean for people is the hallmark of our organization. She is the ideal leader as we expand KHN and deepen its work with more enterprise and investigatory reporting, and I am thrilled to make this appointment.”
An award-winning journalist and M.D., Rosenthal started at the Times as a health care reporter, but then took on a variety of postings, including European health and environment reporter and correspondent in the Beijing Bureau, where she produced groundbreaking coverage on issues including HIV, SARS and bird flu. She was named science editor in 2003, but instead took on an assignment covering the 2004 presidential campaign.
“I’m so excited to be joining KHN, which I’ve watched grow into one of the most respected news outlets for health care coverage over the last few years,” said Rosenthal. “At a time when nearly everyone agrees the American health care system is broken, smart path-breaking independent journalism is a must. With financial pressures forcing traditional media to shrink newsrooms, nonprofit news organizations like KHN can lead the way. I can’t wait to get started on KHN’s next phase: delivering the news KHN readers already rely on, as well as expanding into new types of enterprise and investigative stories.”
Rosenthal’s coverage of health pricing issues in her 2013-2014 series, “Paying Till It Hurts,” set the bar for the way 21st century journalism can tackle complex health policy issues. It included 10 major installments and more than a dozen follow-up articles, videos, powerful photographs, and interactive graphics. It won prizes both for health reporting and its use of innovative use of new digital tools, and elicited comments from tens of thousands of readers.
Rosenthal succeeds John Fairhall who will be stepping down after nearly five years as editor-in-chief and taking on a part-time role in KHN’s new enterprise reporting group. “We owe John a great debt for his strong and smart stewardship of KHN during its formative period,” said KFF CEO Altman.
“Under John’s leadership, KHN has expanded its reporting capacity beyond the Capital Beltway through its partnerships with the nation’s leading national news organizations and more than a hundred other media partners who run KHN stories,” said KFF Vice President David Rousseau who oversees KHN and KFF’s other journalism initiatives. “Libby is the ideal person to continue this trajectory and to lead KHN’s growing team that includes many of the nation’s leading health policy journalists.” The staff has recently expanded to include a large California Bureau and is currently building a major enterprise team that will spur the next phase of KHN’s growth.
A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Medical School, Rosenthal is currently finishing a book about the health care system that will be published in April 2017 by Penguin Random House. She will be based in the Kaiser Family Foundation’s offices in Washington, DC. Rosenthal will continue to write for the New York Times Sunday Review, and will help lead KHN’s ongoing geographic and enterprise reporting expansion.