I am delighted to announce that Emily Baumgaertner, who led The Los Angeles Times’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and wrote enterprising stories on a wide range of public health issues, will be our roving national health correspondent. Many of you already know Emily: She spent two years as a news assistant in The New York Times’s Washington bureau.
Emily won a National Headliners Award and was a finalist for the Livingston Award for her stories about the explosion of vaping among teenagers in 2019 and documented the deluge of more than 100 tobacco industry lobbyists who had influenced the Obama administration not to ban flavored e-cigarettes. In 2020, she plunged into coverage of the pandemic, producing a barrage of news, features and investigations, including one about California’s failed campaign to stop the spread of the virus. This year, she led a team of reporters who laid out Big Tobacco’s aggressive efforts to fight a ban on menthol flavored cigarettes that have disproportionately addicted Black people and brought the industry billions of dollars in annual profits.
Emily developed an interest in medicine and health as a child. Her father was a trauma surgeon and her mother a labor and delivery nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital. She earned a master’s degree in public health at George Washington University, and discovered during her studies in Madagascar that she was more interested in storytelling than research or the practice of medicine. In 2014, she went to work for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, managing its health related projects. She pitched her own ideas and reported her first story — published in The Atlantic in 2016 — from Freetown, Sierra Leone. There she followed a boy who was slowly going blind from what doctors feared was an Ebola infection lurking in his eyes. In 2017, she took the job as a news assistant in our Washington bureau and also wrote a number of stories for the health and science desk, among others. She describes herself as “an infectious disease nerd at heart.”
Emily starts her new job on Sept. 6. Please join me in welcoming her back to The Times.
– Celia Dugger