Journalist Spotlight: Hanna Webster

Hanna Webster has taken local journalism in Pittsburgh by storm. Since joining the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as a health journalist in August 2022, she has garnered awards and recognition from esteemed organizations such as the Society for Features Journalism. and the International Association of Business Communicators. This year is no different. Webster, 27, has won the 2024 Lenfest Institute Emerging Journalist Award, part of the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association’s Keystone Media Awards. She is recognized for her work covering the opioid crisis, the Supreme Court Dobbs decision ending the federal right to an abortion and a Pittsburgh teen’s advocacy for brain cancer. “I am honored to be chosen for this award,” she said.

Webster’s passion for writing began at an early age, when at 13 she formulated her first idea for a novel. Although it never came to fruition, she continued with writing classes where she developed an interest in science writing, inspired by outlets like National Geographic and Scientific American. She received a B.S. degree in neuroscience and creative writing from Western Washington University followed by an M.A. in science writing from Johns Hopkins. After graduation, writing for a newspaper was not something Webster was looking to do.

“I stumbled into journalism,” she said. “But I had an interest in writing stories about health equality and sociological concepts. These topics can be complex and must be approached with sensitivity. Health journalism allows me to employ the same writing techniques I learned in school while reporting on important issues facing the community.”

Besides being an accomplished journalist, Webster is also a published poet. Her poetry has appeared in the Bellingham Review, HAD, Fifth Wheel Press and Bruiser Mag. Her chapbook, “I’m So Glad I Stuck Around for This,” was longlisted for the 2023 Palette Poetry Chapbook Prize. She was also recently awarded a seat in the Orion Magazine poetry workshop, taught by the writer Taneum Bambrick.

As for her time at the Post-Gazette, Webster says she is happy to be working in such a great environment. “I am lucky to be here,” she said. “Everyone here is so talented, and they have been nice and supportive since day one. I never felt I was just thrown into the mix.”

PNA congratulates Webster on receiving this year’s Lenfest emerging journalist honor and for all her incredible achievements.