Honoring Journalism’s Impact on Health Care in Texas
By Tammy Wishard


“She makes us feel hope and inspires us to work toward improving health care and making the world a better place.” 

That is how one judge described the stories of Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje (pictured above), a San Antonio Express-News reporter who was named the 2019 Texas Health Journalist of the Year in the Texas Medical Association’s annual Anson Jones, MD, Awards. It is the second straight year Ms. Fletcher Stoeltje received the competition’s top honor.

Ms. Fletcher Stoeltje’s writings embody the spirit of the TMA media awards competition, now in its 62nd year. The Anson Jones awards recognize outstanding health reporting for Texas print, television, radio, online, and physician journalists. TMA’s Council on Health Promotion oversees the awards, and TMA physician members present the awards to journalists in their newsrooms.

Stories about diabetic amputations, complex medical ethics issues, and the opioid crisis were part of Ms. Fletcher Stoeltje’s winning package. Her articles provide an in-depth look at the issues coupled with a human interest element to hook readers in, judges said. Ms. Fletcher Stoeltje also received honorable mention in three individual categories in the contest. 

“This reporter seems to write every story with heart,” one judge said. “She’s an amazing storyteller who writes stories of victory, of courage, of pain and suffering … and we are able to feel what people are experiencing through her writing.” Council on Health Promotion physician and non-physician members and former journalists judge the entries.

Other winning journalists in the 2019 competition covered issues such as human papillomavirus (HPV), maternal health, and suicide among farmers.

TMA physicians, medical students, TMA Alliance members, and county medical societies can nominate Texas journalists for the awards – for stories that are accurate, impactful, and in the public interest. (Journalists also can enter their own work in the competition.) Three of this year’s winners were nominated by a TMA Family member.

“Health and medical stories often make front-page news, and TMA wants to honor those reporters who help convey reliable health information to Texans,” said Eman Attaya, MD, of Lubbock, chair of TMA’s Council on Health Promotion. “It’s great when our physicians tell us about stories in their local media outlets that are worthy of recognition.”

The 2020 Anson Jones Awards nomination process is under way, and TMA wants physicians to help the association recognize stories that were on target. The contest features 12 award categories, including one that honors physician and medical student journalists who write or produce health news coverage that appears regularly in a general-interest news media outlet based in Texas. 

It’s easy to nominate journalists:

  1. Email your nomination. All TMA needs is the reporter’s name, name of story (if available), date of broadcast or publication, and the media outlet. Please try to include a URL for the story.
  2. TMA will send the reporter a postcard with a hand-written note to let the reporter know you nominated him or her, and for which story, and automatically enter it into the contest. 

Visit the TMA website for complete nomination details, contest rules, and categories. If you have questions, contact Tammy Wishard, TMA outreach coordinator, at (800) 880-1300 ext. 1470, or (512) 370-1470, or via email.

Last Updated On

October 30, 2019

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Tammy Wishard

Outreach Coordinator, Division of Communication

(512) 370-1470
Tammy Wishard

Tammy Wishard is TMA’s outreach coordinator. She manages TMA's award-winning Hard Hats for Little Heads and Be Wise — Immunize programs, and the Anson Jones, MD, Awards for excellence in health reporting. She has a 20-plus-year history with TMA, where she started as a writer/editor. Tammy, an Iowa native, is a graduate of Abilene Christian University.

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