Mike Hixenbaugh


Recipient of the STAR REPORTER OF THE YEAR award in The Charles E. Green Awards (2017)

Mike Hixenbaugh
Houston Chronicle

Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle

Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle

Judge’s Comments:

Mike Hixenbaugh’s reporting is enlightening, inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. His stories capture — with compassion and precision — the winding path of healing, the stress of medical uncertainty and a health care system ill-equipped to handle the complexity of the human experience.

The power of Hixenbaugh’s writing and reporting is on display in his four-part series “Alive Inside,” which details the life of Nick Tullier, a police officer who was shot in the head in the line of duty. Through a year of interviews, observation and medical reporting, Hixenbaugh details the grueling recovery of patients with so-called disorders of consciousness. The series captures the toll such rehabilitation takes on families with even the best resources, and why relatives of many patients with similar conditions are encouraged to withdraw life support before there’s a chance to see improvement.

While medical research is often a source of hope in Hixenbaugh’s stories, his reporting also illustrates cases in which research can be a source of suffering. In a story about a patient in the control group of a clinical trial, Hixenbaugh grapples with the consequences of requiring certain patients to receive existing — rather than experimental — treatments. This is yet another example of Hixenbaugh’s skill in telling stories with emotional and intellectual complexity.

Rebecca Blatt
Assistant Dean
Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Arizona State University

Judge’s Bio:

Rebecca Blatt is an assistant dean at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she oversees master’s programs, online programs and high school summer programs, among other initiatives. Blatt previously directed the Cronkite News Digital Production Bureau and the Cronkite School’s Public Insight Network Bureau. In these roles, Blatt guided undergraduate and graduate students in multimedia storytelling, social media, data visualization, audience engagement, cross-platform collaboration and newsroom leadership.

Prior to her time at ASU, Blatt worked in public radio at NPR, North Carolina Public Radio and WAMU 88.5 FM in Washington, D.C. You can follow her on Twitter @reblatt.

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