Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kaiser Health News Launches June 1

The Kaiser Family Foundation plans a formal launch on June 1 for Kaiser Health News (KHN), an independent service that will provide original reporting on the politics and policy surrounding health care. The stated goal of the news service, edited by veterans of the Washington press corps, is “to provide in-depth coverage and news at a time when cash-strapped news organizations are being forced to scale back.”

The news service had a "soft launch" last fall, and earlier this year began distributing its work via the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. It already has had stories published in newspapers such as The Philadelphia Inquirer. It does not charge for its work.

The foundation sees KHN as fulfilling a public need – independently produced journalism on a topic of public interest – that no longer is being fully met by the private sector. The foundation funds KHN directly and acts like the publisher, according to foundation senior vice president Matt James. An independent advisory board oversees KHN's work, but as in all of the foundation's programs, it is overseen by the foundation's board, he said.

Kaiser has put parameters around KHN's work – no “gotcha” journalism – but foundation officials do not review stories prior to publication. James said he expects there will be complaints from within and outside of the foundation. But to do otherwise would undermine the credibility of the news service. “The key is editorial integrity,” he said.

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