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National health care group seeds INN’s next rural health collaboration

March 24, 2023

The next phase of INN’s editorial collaborations on rural health issues is being developed with support from the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to transforming health care through evidence and collaboration. 

This grant seeds a second iteration of INN’s Breaking Point series, published in October 2022, investigating the toll of insufficient rural health services on communities and practitioners. 

“Our grantees reflect NIHCM’s increased commitment to organizations that educate journalists covering complex health policy research, the health care marketplace, mental health, and public health,” said Nancy Chockley, Founding President and CEO of NIHCM. “We are delighted to support national and local outlets advancing coverage of health equity, rural health, substance use disorders, and other important topics.” 

NIHCM’s investment is particularly crucial because while non-metropolitan America is experiencing the greatest annual population gain in more than a decade, only 7% of grantmaking currently goes to rural areas. The pandemic further underscored the gaps in health care and access to reliable, quality information, particularly in rural areas, which has historically faced unique challenges on both fronts. 

The health equity series will continue to be housed within INN’s Rural News Network (RNN), INN’s first sustained reporting consortium. To date, the Network consists of 71 nonprofit newsrooms in 42 states providing drumbeat and investigative coverage reshared by 90 publishing partners. 

Jozy Malacas-Kinoshita, 61, filed complaints with three state agencies over unexplained changes to her mental health care provided by the state. For our Breaking Point series, Honolulu Civil Beat reported on the lack of psychiatric care on the island of Lanai. Photo by Brittany Lyte for Civil Beat

RNN members’ storytelling leads narrative change around the common misconception of  “rural” as monolithic, highlighting the nuanced realities as well as uniquely local solutions for various issues. 

“At RNN’s core is the fact that the reporters covering these human-centered stories are locals,” said Rural News Network Editor Alana Rocha. “They have firsthand experience of the same struggles they’re writing about. That knowledge and relatability builds critical trust with those most impacted.”

Health equity as a multi-faceted issue of national concern is further crystallized in rural America. INN member newsrooms are increasingly reporting health and equity as priority community information needs. As of December 2022, 88% of survey respondents noted rural issues or health as a key coverage priority, with 33 outlets actively expressing interest in a dedicated collaboration.

Dedicated funding for rural newsrooms as part of an INN editorial series allows participants to invest in focused reporting in response to identified areas of community need which they otherwise would not have capacity to undertake. This is made possible by access to INN infrastructure, which includes republication partnerships, expert editorial guidance, capacity-building resources, and more.

The impact of Breaking Point’s stories is ongoing: stories were republished by 22 other outlets, including nationally syndicated radio, with widespread positive community response. This includes a physician offering his services until gaps in in-person care can be sufficiently addressed, political attention and acknowledgment of barriers, and community engagement events dedicated to the issues raised by the series. Lawmakers and community stakeholders have also taken up the standard, pressing for sustainable, locally relevant solutions and looking more closely at contributing factors. 

INN is eager to continue building on this foundation. The 2023 series will welcome five rural newsrooms to explore, among other topics, post-Roe women’s health, post-pandemic healthcare delivery once the public health emergency ends in May, or other shared emergent themes. 

This spring, INN will publish a new RNN microsite featuring daily news stories from across the U.S., searchable by location and topic, such as environment, education and health. Stay up-to-date on the latest from the Rural News Network by signing up for our Rural News Spotlight newsletter.

To learn more about how to republish, participate in, or fund this or other RNN initiatives, please contact

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