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About AHCJ: General News

AHCJ adds access to data, online mapping as a benefit for members Date: 08/19/10

Aug. 19, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jeff Porter, AHCJ special projects director, 573-884-5606

AHCJ members will now get special access to data and mapping tools, thanks to an agreement the organization has made with Esri, a company that provides mapping software and data.

This new member benefit allows AHCJ members to use data – at no cost – to enhance their health reporting. They will have the option to sign up for a basic subscription to Esri's Business Analyst Online (BAO), a web-based demographic data exploration application. Journalists can use BAO to investigate demographic patterns and compare areas through interactive maps.

The BAO data include demographics on race, ethnicity, age, income and housing, plus business and consumer buying patterns in small geographic areas. Much of the information goes back several years and includes future projections. Reporters can pick existing areas - including states, counties, cities, ZIP codes, Census tracts - or define specific areas to profile and compare. With a built-in business search tool, a reporter could, for example, create a map showing income demographics, then overlay specific locations of grocery stores for a story about a local food desert.

Esri also will provide custom data, maps, and charts to AHCJ members if BAO doesn't have what they're looking for. The data available include demographic data with more than 2,000 variables of current-year estimates and five-year projections; details on segments of population by lifestyle; consumer spending and demand, including health-related products and services; .and business-oriented data often used for business location decisions but can be used by a journalist to paint a picture of areas across the United States.

The agreement adds another benefit for AHCJ members. The basic BAO subscription is normally $995 a year.

"The data that are available to our membership offer detailed and up-to-date information covering issues that health reporters often write about - demographics and economics in their own communities or neighborhoods, the patterns of health services available, even the habits of consumers who live in those areas, and more," said Jeff Porter, AHCJ special projects director.

"It helps the journalist to efficiently find the places to go and people to see in the pursuit of stories, provide tools to pose authoritative questions to sources, and data to use in graphics to illustrate the story."

The Association of Health Care Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues. Its mission is to improve the quality, accuracy and visibility of health care reporting, writing and editing.

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