About the Blog

Covering Health is a blog maintained by the Association of Health Care Journalists. It is intended to keep journalists who report on health and health care issues informed about the latest news in the field, aware of noteworthy stories and reports, and able to connect with colleagues.

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. There are more than 1,400 members of AHCJ.

Along with its 501(c)3 educational arm – The Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism – AHCJ offers training opportunities, fellowships, publications, tip sheets, articles and web resources for reporters covering all aspects of health care journalism, including medical research, public policy, consumer health, health law, clinical health, public health, ethics and the business of health care. Be sure to see the wide range of resources available on our website for reporters who cover health and medicine.

Staff

Covering Health is produced by a group of contributing editors/moderators:

Len Bruzzese, executive director, AHCJ
Bruzzese is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He is also an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and serves on the executive committee of the Council of National Journalism Organizations. Bruzzese, a founding staff member of USA Today, spent 20 years in daily journalism before entering the nonprofit and academic worlds. He served as deputy director of Investigative Reporters and Editors and the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting for seven years before helping base AHCJ at Missouri in 2005. He is co-author of “The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook,” (fourth edition), and has edited 11 reporter beat books focused on different reporting topics of use to daily journalists. He has won several newspaper and magazine editing awards and was named Outstanding Alumnus in Journalism by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Bruzzese’s journalism career included writing, editing and management stints at USA TodayThe Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.), the Pensacola News Journal and Gannett News Service (Washington, D.C.). His final daily newspaper position was as editor of The Olympian in Olympia, Wash.

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia), managing editor/online services, AHCJ
Christensen manages and edits the content on healthjournalism.org. She assists with the editing and production of AHCJ’s publications, including books, conference programs and the newsletter. In 2010, she was featured in “Journalists to Follow: 20 industry thinkers, innovators and practitioners we recommend you get to know” in Quill magazine, published by the Society of Professional Journalists. She previously was publications coordinator for Investigative Reporters and Editors, where she oversaw website content, edited IRE publications and assisted advertisers. She worked as a copy editor and an interactive producer at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, a producer for Tribune Interactive, a sports copy editor for the Marin (Calif.) Independent Journal, and was job and internship coordinator at the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism in San Francisco. She telecommutes from Oklahoma.

Jeff Porter, special projects director, AHCJ
Porter became AHCJ special projects director in 2008 after serving six years as the database library director for Investigative Reporters and Editors and the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting. In that position, he conducted and directed data analysis for broadcast and print investigative projects, served as lead instructor for computer-assisted reporting boot camps, and provided journalism training across the United States and overseas. He also has served as a CAR instructor at the Missouri School of Journalism. Previously, he worked 20 years as an award-winning newspaper journalist, served as adjunct college faculty, and co-created and hosted a weekly radio program. His last newspaper job was at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where he served as CAR specialist, combining traditional investigative reporting techniques with advanced data analysis tools.

Kris Hickman (@the_index_case), graduate research assistant, AHCJ
Hickman is working on a master’s degree in public health. As an undergraduate at the University of Missouri, she earned a degree in anthropology, with a minor in journalism. She spent two years in Zambia as an HIV/AIDS community education volunteer in the Peace Corps. She completed an internship with Reuters AlertNet in London. She aspires to be a physician, epidemiologist and science writer.

Core topic leaders

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), Insurance
Burns provides resources for AHCJ members to cover the complex and changing landscape of health insurance through blog posts, tip sheets, articles and other resources.
An independent journalist, Burns has been covering health care since 1991 and writes frequently about health policy and the business of health care for a variety of publications, including Hospitals & Health NetworksManaged Care magazine,Ophthalmology Management, and The Dark Report.
One of the founding editors of the Practice Options newsletters, Burns has edited books on health care and business strategies for Faulkner & Gray and Panel Publishers. From 1991 to 1994, he was editor-in-chief of Business & Health magazine and later was a contributing editor and author of a monthly column for Managed Healthcare Executive magazine. He was the founding editor of The Financial Manager, a magazine for accountants and other business strategists. Burns, based in Massachusetts, began his career as a newspaper reporter in Connecticut.

Brenda Goodman (@GoodmanBrenda), Medical Studies
Goodman was the founding core topic leader for medical studies. She is a staff writer at WebMD.

Joanne Kenen (@joannekenenHealth Reform
Kenen, the health editor for Politico, is a Washington-based writer who specializes in health and health policy. She is leading an effort to provide resources to help AHCJ members cover the complexities of implementing health care reform. Her work has appeared in the AtlanticThe Washington Post, Slate, the Washingtonian, Kaiser Health News, Health Affairs, Miller-McCune, the American ProspectAARP Magazine and numerous other publications. She was the senior writer for the Health Policy Program at the New America Foundation, and a Kaiser Media Fellow in a 2006-7 , where she wrote extensively about palliative medicine, hospice, and aging. A longtime Reuters correspondent in New York, Florida/the Caribbean, and Washington, she has covered everything from voodoo festivals to U.S. presidential campaigns and she spent more than a decade covering health policy on Capitol Hill. Thanks to her particularly wakeful second son, she is co-author of a parenting book, “The Sleeplady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight.” Earlier in her career, she did a lot of reporting from Latin America, and co-authored a book on Costa Rica.

Mary Otto (@mottomatic), Oral Health
Otto is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist who began writing about oral health at The Washington Post, where she worked for eight years covering social issues, including health care and poverty. In 2007, she wrote the story of 12-year-old Deamonte Driver, a Maryland child covered by Medicaid who died after bacteria from a dental infection spread to his brain. The death of the boy spurred congressional hearings, a revamping of Maryland’s Medicaid dental system and increased attention to oral health access for Medicaid children nationwide. After leaving the Post in a newsroom downsizing, Otto spent an academic year as a 2009-10 Knight Science Journalism Fellow studying oral health and public health at Harvard University. Her ongoing exploration of barriers to dental care in poor communities has been assisted by a California Endowment Dennis A. Hunt Fund grant. Otto has continued to write about oral health and other health and social issues as a freelance writer for the Post, a contributing writer for an online publication for oral health professionals called DrBicuspid.com, and as the editor of Street Sense, a newspaper produced and sold by homeless men and women in Washington, D.C.

Joe Rojas-Burke (@rojasburke), Social Determinants and Disparities
Rojas-Burke is a freelance journalist in Portland, Ore. He was a staff writer for 14 years at The Oregonian newspaper, where his beat coverage included science, medicine, and the business of health care. He was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the 2012-13 academic year. Before wandering into journalism, he studied biology at Columbia University and worked as a cell biology researcher at the Rockefeller University in New York City.

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), Aging
Seegert provides resources to help AHCJ members cover the complexities of aging by writing blog posts, tip sheets, articles and other resources. Her reporting and writing background spans more than 25 years in print, broadcast, and digital media. She covers an array of consumer and professional health topics, including wellness/prevention, chronic disease management, women’s health, aging, health policy and health IT. Seegert’s writing credits include Kaiser Health News, New America Media, Women magazine, Home Care Technology Report, The Atlantic online, Discovery Education, Kidshealth.org, and Healthwise Magazine. Seegert also has published in professional journals, including the Journal of Healthcare Information Management and Practical Diabetology. She is a regular contributor to the HealthCetera, blog and to the award-winning HealthStyles radio show (WBAI/Pacifica), both part of the Center for Health, Media and Policy at Hunter College, NYC, where she is also a Senior Fellow.

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