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
My dog helped me land a freelance assignment recently. Actually, my dog’s blogs (he has two) helped me get the gig. To be honest, my 5-year-old Labrador retriever, Roscoe, wouldn’t even have a blog if it weren’t for what I’ve learned at AHCJ’s Health Journalism conferences the past three years.
So, if you’re wondering if attending Health Journalism 2015 in California later this month will be worth your time and effort, read on.
After attending AHCJ’s Health Journalism 2012 conference in Atlanta, I landed enough assignments to cover my costs for that conference and every one since. I did the math for this blog post.
Recently, I discovered that what I learned in Atlanta (and in Boston in 2013 and in Denver in 2014) continues to pay dividends. Continue reading
From the Spring 2014 issue of HealthBeat.
If you didn’t get to hear Rhiannon Meyers describe her diabetes project at Health Journalism 2014 in Denver, you missed her take on a real catty whompus state of affairs, as they say in Texas.
Diabetes is so rampant in Corpus Christi, Rhiannon said, that the Dartmouth Atlas ranked the city No. 1 in the nation for below-the-knee amputations. A national magazine even dubbed the town “Corpulent Christi” for its Texas-sized waist lines. Rhiannon, an investigative reporter covering health care part time at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, proposed a yearlong project for 2013 that was chosen for support by AHCJ’s Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance.
The fellowship – which includes travel and research support, mentoring and other resources – enabled Rhiannon to steep herself in issues surrounding diabetes, both locally and nationally. She learned what questions to ask and where to go for data. “AHCJ helped me bust out of the local silo,” she said. “I heard more from readers during that series than I have in my entire career.”
Stories like this are why AHCJ exists. We are all about reporters learning from one another, sharing ideas and techniques and resources, and then supporting stellar work. Health care is too vast and complicated to cover alone, especially when reporters like Rhiannon have to spread their time across multiple beats.
So what is AHCJ doing now that matters to its members? Continue reading
It didn’t sit right with Olga Khazan, an associate editor at The Atlantic, seeing so many people focus on individual behavior as the root cause of public health problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. She’d come across too many studies revealing how health is shaped by external factors such as educational opportunity, the physical environment and social quality of neighborhoods, and the corrosive effects of prolonged exposure to stressful living conditions.
In How Being Poor Makes You Sick, Khazan came up with an appealing lede to draw readers into a deeply reported story about the complicated, nuanced realities of the social determinants of health:
When poor teenagers arrive at their appointments with Alan Meyers, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center, he performs a standard examination and prescribes whatever medication they need. But if the patient is struggling with transportation or weight issues, he asks an unorthodox question:
“Do you have a bicycle?”
Khazan found an efficient, compact way to frame the story to make it highly readable, while fitting in a tight exposition of the research linking social adversity to poor health via stress, lack of education, poor nutrition, environmental toxins, altered gene expression, and other pathways. I talked to Khazan about how she came up with her idea and executed the reporting. Read more …
Reporters need to think carefully about the language they use when reporting on suicide, a panel of experts urged during Health Journalism 2014 in Denver. The stakes are high for readers or viewers who may be at risk for taking their own lives and for families who have lost a member, panelists said.
Reporters don’t do a bad job covering suicide, but their word choices can be subtly misleading, said Marian Betz, M.D., M.P.H., an emergency physician and suicide researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
“Suicide is not inevitable,” she said, nor is it “inexplicable.” She implored journalists to avoid using both words because 90 percent of people who die by suicide have psychiatric disorders that could have been treated. Continue reading