New Era of Health Reporting for National Public Radio

Health and health care reporting by National Public Radio: 1999-2002 and website project

    • August 1, 2003

Between 1999 and 2002, National Public Radio (NPR), a not-for-profit radio network that produces and distributes programming to affiliated stations nationwide, reorganized and increased the size of its Health Unit, produced more than 500 health-related stories and expanded health-related coverage on its website.

The Project: During the period of this grant, NPR reorganized its Health Unit into three key health areas:

  • Behavioral and Social Health—including disease prevention, public health, bioterrorism, mental health, substance abuse, aging and disability.
  • Health Care and Health Policy—including Medicare and other legislation at the federal and state levels and market-based health system changes.
  • The Practice of Medicine—including clinical practice issues, biomedical research, end-of-life care and quality measurement.

Between 1999 and 2002, the unit expanded from a staff of four full-time and three part-time positions to six full-time and five part-time staff.

Key Results

NPR reported the following accomplishments for the project:

  • Health Unit staff produced or directed the development of 576 health-related stories, accounting for 44 hours of programming.

    Additional stories included political coverage of health care and health-related legislative issues—for example welfare reform issues—and coverage of tobacco-related legal issues.
  • NPR expanded the health and health-related news and feature information it provided on the Internet.
  • In 2002, NPR launched an interactive site, Housing First, centered on stories about housing for people with special needs, including health-related needs, which had aired on its newsmagazines.

    Topics covered included the shortage of housing in New York City and elsewhere for people with AIDS, the multi-year battle of a disabled Kansas woman who refused to be either institutionalized or homeless and an innovative program in Boston for grandparents raising their children's offspring.