Durham, NC – October 4, 2023 – Epicenter-NYC and TBN24, members of URL Media, a network of high-performing Black and Brown media organizations, together with ClearHealthCosts, a journalism company bringing transparency to the healthcare marketplace, were once again recognized for their Covid-19 vaccine delivery efforts with a 2023 LION Award for Public Service. The award recognizes general excellence in journalistic impact that successfully connects people with the information and services they need to navigate their lives and help make their communities more inclusive and equitable. LION, a broad group of independent online publishers, held the awards ceremony at its Southeast News Sustainability Meetup in Durham, N.C., the evening of October 3, 2023.
The Covid-19 vaccination efforts guided and supported New Yorkers with vaccine information, where to access resources and scheduling appointments. Efforts spanned an on-the-ground team and army of volunteers in key areas led by Epicenter’s publisher S. Mitra Kalita, community manager Daniel Laplaza and community coordinator Adriana Proaño; SMS and dedicated hotlines in multiple languages via Epicenter-NYC and in Bangla via TBN24; flyers with information in English, Spanish and French; weekly segments on TBN24; features and Q&As with experts across Epicenter’s newsletters, podcast and website; and organizational work, grantwriting, coordination with the Fund for Public Health of NYC and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as well as media and public relations and other critical support work, by Jeanne Pinder, founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts.
Critical to bringing life-saving vaccines to the most vulnerable New Yorkers was the collaboration with NYC Health and NYC Health + Hospitals to bring vaccination mobile units and testing kits to neighborhoods with limited access, offer flexibility beyond the weekday work week, and ensure older adults and children could easily get vaccinated.
“We are grateful to the communities across New York City who partnered with us to disseminate information, and ultimately, the vaccines themselves in neighborhoods that desperately needed them,” said S. Mitra Kalita, Epicenter-NYC’s founder and publisher. “Epicenter was born out of the pandemic and this effort helped us become a part of the solution. I want to single out the work of Adriana Proaño, who joined us as a Spanish translator and ended up leading our efforts. She continues to connect our neighbors on the ground to the resources they need, and I am grateful for her helping us redefine who gets to be a journalist.”
“We are proud of this work, and humbled by this award,” said Jeanne Pinder, leader of ClearHealthCosts. “We are glad to take part in the fight for health equity – using our skills to serve our community in a part of Queens named by the city as a Taskforce for Racial Inclusion and Equity neighborhood, among those hardest hit by the Covid pandemic. Our neighbors here struggled to get vaccinated and tested, and we were eager and willing to help them. ‘This is journalism that saves lives.’”
“Access to life-saving resources, including the very vaccines that protected the communities most vulnerable to Covid-19, should never be hindered by language access. We are grateful to have partnered with Epicenter-NYC and ClearHealthCosts to ensure the Bangladeshi community was not left behind and reach many more neighbors. We tapped into our trusted TBN24 Network to better inform neighbors in the language they prefer and through the platforms they engage with us. This is an example of how we can collectively work together in times of crisis,” said Habib Rahman, co-founder, TBN24 Television.
Epicenter-NYC, ClearHealthCosts and TBN24 recently won the “Best Audience Listening Award” from the Local Media Association.
Founded in 2020, Epicenter-NYC started as a newsletter to help underserved communities, especially those at the epicenter of the epicenter in NYC, navigate Covid through journalism, an artist program and on-the-ground resources. Thanks to these efforts, Epicenter-NYC has helped thousands of New Yorkers access vaccines including against Covid-19 and monkeypox, with more than 25,000 people getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. Today, Epicenter-NYC is a multiplatform community journalism organization that also includes podcast and video content, and features small businesses, culture and things to do, artists profiles, and coverage on issues that impact people’s everyday life.
For more information about Epicenter-NYC and to access vaccine and other resources, visit epicenter-nyc.com.
ClearHealthCosts is a no-longer startup in New York bringing transparency to healthcare by telling people what stuff costs since 2011. Their work is featured not only on their home site, but also in partnerships with other news organizations. Their leadership in the grant process with the Fund for Public Health reflects the expansion of their expertise from health costs into helping people navigate the complicated healthcare system and get the care they need. ClearHealthCosts has received prestigious grants from such organizations as the Lenfest Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism; the Ford Foundation via the International Women’s Media Foundation and others. Partners have included CBS News, WNYC-Gothamist, WVUE Fox 8 Live and The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, The Philadelphia Inquirer and others. Find them at ClearHealthCosts.com
TBN24 is a news and live-streaming service for Bangladeshis in the U.S.