Category Archives: Health journalism

Latest jobs, awards and other news about AHCJ members

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 social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

The latest report on AHCJ members’ awards, fellowships, job changes and other news includes Alicia F. Ault, Eileen Beal, Sheri Fink, Kenny Goldberg, Markian Hawryluk, Sandra Jordan, Bridget M. Kuehn, Meryl Lin McKean, Ivan Oransky, Paul Raeburn, Gabriel Sanchez, Fred Schulte, Gary Schwitzer, Liz Seegert, Karl Stark, Stephanie Stephens and Marijke Vroomen Durning. Continue reading

Welcome AHCJ’s newest members

Len Bruzzese

About Len Bruzzese

Len Bruzzese is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He also is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and serves on the executive committee of the Council of National Journalism Organizations.

Please welcome these new professional members to AHCJ. All new members are welcome to stop by this post’s comment section to introduce themselves.

  • Gwin Grimes, editor, Alpine Avalanche, Alpine, Texas (@Rockslides)
  • Jake Harper, health reporter, WFYI, Indianapolis (@jkhrpr)
  • Karen Rider, independent journalist, Cromwell, Conn.
  • Ellen Rolfes, multimedia reporter, PBS NewsHour, Arlington, Va. (@ellenmhr)
  • Khrista Rypl, web producer, WNYC, Bayside, N.Y. (@khristap)
  • Taylor Sisk, contributing editor, North Carolina Health News, Chapel Hill, N.C.

If you haven’t joined yet, see what member benefits you’re missing out on: Access to more than 50 journals and databases, tip sheets and articles from your colleagues on how they’ve reported stories, conferences, workshops, online training, reporting guides and more. Join AHCJ today to get a wealth of support and tools to help you.

Health journalists gathered for training, networking in Silicon Valley #ahcj15

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 social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Health Journalism 2015Nearly 700 people attended Health Journalism 2015, the annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists. The gathering, in California’s Silicon Valley in late April, provided journalists with expert speakers and panels on everything from hospital quality to a press briefing with the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In a kickoff speech that many attendees talked about throughout the conference, Stanford physician and author Abraham Verghese, M.D., offered an eloquent description about the importance of how doctors care for patients. Continue reading

From #ahcj15 back to the beat: Covering disparities in health

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington-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 health reform resources and tip sheets at susan@healthjournalism.org.

At a conference, it all seems easy. So many ideas, so many enthusiastic colleagues, so many potential stories.

lisa-aliferis-ahcj15

Kris Hickman/AHCJ Lisa Aliferis, editor of KQED-San Francisco’s health blog, asks a question after hearing from physician and bestselling author Abraham Verghese, M.D., on the opening night of Health Journalism 2015.

With nearly four days packed with sessions, there’s no shortage of new contacts, resources and data. But now what?

Where should reporters start in trying to dissect their material into something usable, especially when it comes to the great wide territory of social determinants and health care? Continue reading

Panelists urge journalists to report on how vaccines save lives #ahcj15

Katie McCrimmon

About Katie McCrimmon

Katie Kerwin McCrimmon is a senior writer for Health News Colorado. She attended Health Journalism 2015 on an AHCJ-Colorado Health Journalism Fellowship, which is supported by the Colorado Health Foundation.

Pia Christensen/AHCJRebecca Plevin, a health reporter at KPCC Southern California Public Radio, includes in her stories the fact that there’s no scientific evidence backing up claims that vaccines are harmful.

As a measles outbreak late last year spread from Disneyland to seven U.S. states affecting at least 147 people, one news organization on the front lines of the story made a deliberate decision about how to handle stories related to vaccines.

“Like climate change, there aren’t two sides to this story,” said Rebecca Plevin, a health reporter for KPCC Southern California Public Radio, referring to the fact that in both cases there’s no dispute over the science. There are not two sets of facts when it comes to vaccines, she said.

Plevin’s remarks came during a panel about vaccines at Health Journalism 2015 in Santa Clara, Calif.

When she’s doing stories about vaccine-preventable diseases or parents’ qualms about giving vaccines, Plevin now talks about the proven benefits of vaccines. If parents talk about diverting from recommended vaccine schedules or say they have fears that vaccines harm children, Plevin and her co-workers include a statement that there’s no scientific evidence backing up claims that vaccines are harmful. Continue reading

Reporters get the inside story on reader-supported journalism #ahcj15

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.

In traditional publishing, freelancers know there’s lot of waiting. Pitch an idea and wait. Report, write, and submit your article. And wait again. Send a bill. And wait some more.

Crowdfunding offers another way for journalists to get paid. While there’s still lots of waiting, journalists who go this route collect payments from readers, also known as supporters or patrons. As in patrons of the arts. For Health Journalism 2015, AHCJ member Tara Haelle (@tarahaelle) moderated a panel, “Freelance: Is crowdfunding in your future?” in which a journalist described how she used crowd-sourced funds to publish her book. Representatives of two crowdfunding sites explained how they work.

Heather Boerner (@HeatherBoerner), an AHCJ member and freelance journalist (and now author) in San Francisco, raised $4,200 on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to cover much of the costs of her book, “Positively Negative: Love, Pregnancy, and Science’s Surprising Victory Over HIV.” It’s the story of how anti-viral medications help those who are HIV-positive to have children. Continue reading

Family caregivers face increasing stress, health issues #ahcj15

Ansley Stewart

About Ansley Stewart

Ansley Stewart (@ansleyestewart) is a student at the University of Georgia Graduate School of Journalism. She attended Health Journalism 2015 as a 2015 AHCJ-Academic Health Journalism Fellow.

Family caregivers of older adults are increasingly experiencing stress-related effects of caring for loved ones and may be putting their own health at risk, according to aging and policy experts on the Health Journalism 2015 panel, “Challenges Facing America’s Family Caregivers.” Experts cautioned that a widening “care gap” means fewer available family caregivers to meet future needs.

Most care for older adults is not provided by Medicare or Medicaid-reimbursed services; rather it is done through an informal network of family and friends – usually an adult daughter or daughter-in-law between 45 and 64. Lynn Friss Feinberg, M.S.W., senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute, said the “care gap,” or Caregiver Support Ratio, of potential family caregivers for each person over age 80 is a serious concern.

Those age 80 and above are most likely to need long-term services and supports. In 2010, there were more than seven potential caregivers for every person over 80; in 2030, the ratio is expected to drop to 4 to 1, and will decline to 3 to 1 by 2050. Feinberg pointed to family size and greater geographic diversity as the primary reasons. Continue reading

Freelancers get 8 tips on selling related stories to multiple markets #ahcj15

Tammy Worth

About Tammy Worth

Tammy Worth (@TammyWorth1) is an independent journalist based in Blue Springs, Mo. She attended Health Journalism 2015 as a 2015 AHCJ-Missouri Health Journalism Fellow, a program supported by the Missouri Foundation for Health.

At the Health Journalism 2015 session, “Freelance: Re-slant and resell ideas to multiple markets,” panelists offered eight tips for turning a story idea into multiple articles for various publications. To do this, they said, freelancers have to learn to look at stories, notes and interviews in a different way than they may be doing.

The first tip, offered by Kate Gammon, is to shift the audience. For instance, if a writer produces an article on an emerging science being studied on lab rats for one publication, he or she may be able to follow the research through its process and use the information for a consumer publication at a more advanced stage. If you are writing for a women’s magazine, think about ways the topic might be slanted for different ages to fit into a parenting publication or one like AARP.

Second, mine your notes. You never know when you might want to go back to get more information on a topic or an idea that didn’t work in one article but might in another. The panelists recommended using Evernote and Pear Note to organize notes and search for topics or subjects. Continue reading

AHCJ invites members to run for board of directors

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 social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Photo: FutUndBeidl via Flickr

Photo: FutUndBeidl via Flickr

Qualified AHCJ members can now declare their candidacy for the organization’s board of directors.

Each year, members in AHCJ’s professional category elect members of the board. Six of the 12 director positions come up for election each year for two-year terms.

AHCJ is built on the wisdom, experience and energy of its members. It is what makes AHCJ a professional home for so many journalists. Continue reading

Doctor says media coverage of Ebola ‘fanned the hysteria’ #ahcj15

Stephanie Innes

About Stephanie Innes

Stephanie Innes (@stephanieinnes) is a senior health reporter at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. She attended Health Journalism 2015 on an AHCJ-Rural Health Journalism, which is supported by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Kris Hickman/AHCJDeane Marchbien, U.S. president of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, critiqued media coverage of Ebola.

Kris Hickman/AHCJDeane Marchbien, U.S. president of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, critiqued media coverage of Ebola.

Media coverage of the Ebola epidemic did a disservice to the public and, “a reckoning is due,” a Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders leader told health care journalists gathered in Silicon Valley last month.

“Instead of focusing on the medical literature and the facts related to Ebola, many of your colleagues fanned the hysteria and the frenzy and the fear,” Deane Marchbein, M.D., told journalists gathered for Health Journalism 2015, the Association of Health Care Journalists’ annual conference, in Santa Clara, Calif.

“An opportunity to educate, inform and reassure was, to a great degree, missed.”

Ebola dominated the headlines only when an American became infected, said Marchbein, who is president of the U.S. Board of Directors for MSF/Doctors Without Borders and was the keynote lunchtime speaker. Continue reading