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Social Justice Journalism: Lessons from Health-e News

Resource type: Research Report

Barbara Klugman |

This report examines how quality advocacy journalism from Health-e News, a South African nonprofit news service focused on the country’s delivery of public health services, is helping advance the goal of achieving a healthy, equitable and just nation.

Health-e News, which was founded in 1999, came to prominence during the HIV and AIDS crisis in South Africa that began taking its toll in the early 2000s. Its coverage of the government’s AIDS denialism and the unwillingness of drug makers to provide affordable medicines—news that was largely absent from other state-owned and commercial media—helped advocates pressure policy makers to agree to make treatment available.

According to the report’s author, Barbara Klugman, Health-e  News’ investigative reporting and analysis on public health issues has helped empower people, provide an outlet for community voices, encourage debate and hold decision-makers accountable.

Klugman adds that the news service expanded from its HIV/AIDS coverage in subsequent years to other topics news outlets were ignoring: a threat from drug resistant tuberculosis, newborn babies dying from severe diarrhea and deaths of premature babies because of the lack of incubators. Stories on these issues and others led citizens to take action and activists to pressure health care providers and government to respond.

The report also discusses lessons for funders, such as the importance of understanding the process of independent investigative journalism, along with highlighting effective ways to support this work. In addition, the report points out missteps funders have to guard against, such as imposing constraints that are not appropriate to journalism.

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Health-e News is an Atlantic grantee. Atlantic commissioned this report.

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Global Impact:

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