Lion award finalists announcement

Our partnership with Epicenter-NYC and TBN24 to deliver Covid vaccines in an undervaccinated neighborhood in New York City’s borough of Queens has been named a finalist for the national public service award for LION Publishers, the U.S.-Canada group local independent online news publications.

Winners will be announced at the LION awards ceremony and dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 3, in Durham, N.C., during LION’s Southeast News Sustainability Meetup.

We launched our partnership under the grant to increase vaccine distribution in July 2021, working with  Epicenter-NYC, a Queens hyperlocal, and TBN24, serving the Bangladeshi emigre community. This work in Queens Village, a part of the New York City borough of Queens that borders on Long Island and occupies zip code 11429, was part of a grant called the Vaccine Equity Partner Engagement, with the Fund for Public Health of New York City, using Centers for Disease Control money, in partnership with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene of New York City. The grant was an outgrowth of our previous work reporting on the vaccine delivery.

Using grant funds, we found partners in a vaccine van run by New York City Health + Hospitals that parked near the Ss. Joachim and Anne Roman Catholic Church in Queens Village, making free, no-appointment vaccine and testing available two days a week for a year and a half. Under the program, we provided support staff, logistics and publicity for the van, where thousands of people were vaccinated and tested, at a time when vaccines and testing were sometimes hard to get and sometimes very costly.

The V.E.P.E. funds supported vaccine delivery to underserved neighborhoods in the New York City Taskforce for Racial Inclusion and Equity neighborhoods.

Previously, our vaccine partnership won the digital innovation award for “Best Audience Listening Strategy” from the Local Media Association.

“This project is truly inspiring,” the L.M.A. judges said. “Partnering with two other news organizations to bring a life-saving vaccine to a community in need brings new meaning to journalism’s mission of ‘serving the public.’ … This line right here says it all: ‘Meeting people where they are. Engagement. Listening.’ This is how journalism changes peoples’ lives.”

The Local Media Association works with more than 3,000 newspapers, broadcasters, digital news sites and other partners. This listening award, one of several local digital innovation awards, “recognizes the collective efforts of a newsroom to create a strategy around listening to audiences and what changes were made to newsroom strategy as a result of those listening efforts,” the judges said.

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...