Peggy Girshman, an Emmy Award-winning health-care journalist who helped start the Washington-based news service Kaiser Health News in 2008 and build it into a media organization of national scope, died March 14 at her home in Silver Spring, Md. She was 61.
The cause was complications from amyloidosis, a condition of abnormal protein production and deposition in organs, said her husband, Mitchell Berger.
Ms. Girshman was a founding editor of Kaiser Health News with Wall Street Journal reporter Laurie McGinley, who is now a health reporter at The Washington Post. Matt James, an executive at the Kaiser Family Foundation, oversaw operations. The news service is a program of the nonprofit foundation, which studies health policy.
As executive editor of Kaiser Health News’s online operation until her retirement in 2014, Ms. Girshman coordinated coverage of health-care policy and politics at the federal and state levels. She also spearheaded a health-care-policy boot camp for reporters at NPR-affiliate stations.
Kaiser publishes its stories online and through other news organizations, including The Post.
Earlier in her career, working in broadcast media, Ms. Girshman gained a reputation for explaining complex health and science issues for lay audiences. She earned four local Emmys and one national Emmy as a producer, the latter for “Killer Virus,” a 1995 Learning Channel show that focused on Ebola.
Ms. Girshman began her career as a story and program producer for TV stations such as WJLA (Channel 7) and WUSA (Channel 9) in Washington and WNET (Channel 13) in New York City. As a senior producer for PBS, she worked on “Scientific American Frontiers” as well as a 26-part educational series on statistics.
She joined NPR as a science reporter in the early 1990s and rose to become managing editor in charge of integrating the newsroom’s radio and digital sections.
After serving as a senior medical producer at “Dateline NBC” from 1998 to 2001, Ms. Girshman worked with several start-up news organizations, including a New York Times video-journalism affiliate. She briefly served as executive editor of Congressional Quarterly’s website before being recruited to start Kaiser Health News.
Peggy Lynn Girshman was born in Buffalo on Oct. 20, 1954, and grew up in Detroit. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1976.
Her first marriage, to Andy Burness, ended in divorce. Besides Berger, her husband of 20 years, survivors include a brother and a sister.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story contained several errors. Ms. Girshman and Laurie McGinley were founding editors of Kaiser Health News, but they did not create the news service. A colleague, Matt James, was not a founding editor either, but instead a vice president in charge of operations. The news service is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, not a separate organization. The article has been revised.
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