Category Archives: Freelancing

Here’s how one journalist discovered the rush to robotic surgery was ahead of the evidence

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

What does it take to write an award-winning article? For Richard Mark Kirkner, the process involved finding the right idea, pursuing the reporting doggedly, and then putting it together in one compelling piece. This is the way reporting and writing go for most of us. But Kirkner had an edge with this particular story idea: He knew a bit about the subject, and he knew one of the best sources to tap as well.

Two years ago Kirkner read an article about robotic surgery that piqued his interest. As a result of his previous work, he knew a bit about the issues, and, better still, he knew many of the best sources to tap. Then he found an editor receptive to his pitch. Continue reading

How an AHCJ workshop sparked a prominent NYT science story

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Hilary Swift for The New York TimesPhotographer Hilary Swift’s compelling images of Wyoming accompany Beil’s piece on suicide rates in rural America.

Photo: Hilary Swift for The New York TimesPhotographer Hilary Swift’s compelling images of Wyoming accompany Beil’s piece on suicide rates in rural America.

Are workshops really worth your time?

You have to apply, make travel arrangements, and then sort through a massive amount of often technical information packed into just a few hours or days, all while under pressure to produce. Journalists can leave with mountains of research papers, stacks of cards, heaps of data – but wondering if anything really can come from all of it.

For Texas-based freelance writer Laura Beil, the answer is a resounding yes. Continue reading

Story about reconstructive surgery for soldiers was no ‘quick hit’

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: U.S. Army via FlickrLiza Gross looked at how war spurs innovation in medicine in a magazine piece about the state of the art in facial reconstructive surgery for badly wounded soldiers.

Photo: U.S. Army via FlickrLiza Gross looked at how war spurs innovation in medicine in a magazine piece about the state of the art in facial reconstructive surgery for badly wounded soldiers.

With thousands of soldiers having served in Iraq and Afghanistan, our country will be grappling with the short-term and long-term consequences of those wars for decades to come. That means health reporters will find no shortage of opportunities to explain the health ramifications of those tours, from PTSD’s effects and new treatments to battlefield medicine applied in emergency rooms. AHCJ offers several resources to reporters covering mental health issues concerning the military, but there also are many angles to take in looking at the physical consequences of war.

In a new How I Did It article for AHCJ, independent reporter Liza Gross describes how she decided to write about soldiers’ facial reconstruction for Discover and the challenges she encountered, from wading through a huge evidence base of medical research to approaching her interviews with sensitivity and empathy – but not too much. Continue reading

How one reporter re-purposed her broadcast, online work for a new audience

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Joanne Silberner

Joanne Silberner

Joanne Silberner did a heavily reported series of radio stories and web posts on cancer in developing countries in 2013. In 2014, Robert Lott, deputy editor of the health policy journal Health Affairs, asked if she would be willing to do a version for his journal. It would be easy, he said – just update the reporting.

It wasn’t exactly easy, but re-working the stories was fun, and remunerative. In a piece for AHCJ, she tells us about the experience and offers some tips for other reporters. Read more …

Freelancers face unique conflict-of-interest dilemmas

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Yan Arief Purwanto. (Creative Commons license)

Photo: Yan Arief Purwanto via Flickr

Previously, Covering Health has addressed two kinds of potential conflicts of interest that health journalists should watch out for: those of journal article authors and those related to sponsors of journalist trips or other training opportunities.

For freelancers, there’s yet another COI maze to navigate: ensuring that work for one client doesn’t create a conflict for another, present or future.

This sounds simple enough: Don’t cover the same research for two competitors, for example. But in today’s freelance ecosystem, avoiding these conflicts has become more complex, especially with the various types of clients freelancers might have. Continue reading