Tag Archives: writing

Cinematic techniques can add pop to stories, says Pulitzer winner at #AHCJ17

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJTake the standard five W’s and H and think more cinematically, Jacqui Banaszynski suggested. “Think stories, think literature, think fiction, think fairy tales.”

All great stories begin with great reporting. But how do you make your copy snap, crackle and pop? Use some of the same techniques found great television and movies, suggests Jacqui Banaszynski, who holds the Knight Chair in Editing at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Kicking off the morning sessions on the first day of Health Journalism 2017, Banaszynski, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her series, “AIDS in the Heartland,” kept a packed room of journalists engrossed during a nearly two-hour give-and-take on the elements of great narrative writing that engages your readers from beginning to end. Continue reading

Freelancers weigh in on what it takes to successfully write a book at #AHCJ17

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Len Bruzzese/AHCJFreelance journalists take notes during a panel that focused on writing books.

“Can you afford to write a book?”

This question keeps many journalists awake at night. It also served as the title for a compelling panel discussion at Health Journalism 2017.

The harsh and rewarding realities of taking on a book project – from the original moment of inspiration to the promotion of the final product – were explored by experts, including publishing industry veteran Amanda J. Moon. Continue reading

New tip sheet focuses on writing for an older audience

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Condoriano via Flickr

Photo: Condoriano via Flickr

Most journalists do a great job of writing for their audience. But it can be easy to forget that part of your audience may include older adults who often struggle with issues of health literacy, cognitive impairment or language problems.

As Medicare Open Enrollment season gets underway, this is a good time to consider story structure and how the information seniors may rely on is framed. While most of these tips probably are more applicable to journalists at consumer media, writers for more specialized journals and outlets can also benefit. Continue reading

6 tips to find success writing for trade publications #ahcj15

Barbara Feder Ostrov

About Barbara Feder Ostrov

Barbara Feder Ostrov is a former San Jose Mercury News medical writer freelancing for Kaiser Health News. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Ms. Magazine, Weight Watchers Magazine and EverydayHealth.com.

Pia Christensen/AHCJPeggy Peck, of MedPage Today, offers her advice on writing for trade publications during a panel moderated by Bob Finn, right, and featuring Rabiya Tuma, left, and Dan Keller.

Pia Christensen/AHCJPeggy Peck, of MedPage Today, offers her advice on writing for trade publications during a panel moderated by Bob Finn, right, and featuring Rabiya Tuma, left, and Dan Keller.

Top editors offered great advice for journalists interested in freelancing for health trade publications during a panel at Health Journalism 2015.

Trade publications for professionals working in health and medicine provide numerous freelance opportunities for journalists, but the work – while rewarding – is different than writing for a consumer audience, panelists said.

Writing for a professional audience requires a familiarity with the lingo and an understanding of the larger context of developments in a particular field, such as oncology or health information technology. Continue reading

The challenge of writing about people in poverty

Joe Rojas-Burke

About Joe Rojas-Burke

Joe Rojas-Burke is AHCJ’s core topic leader on the social determinants of health, working to help journalists broaden the frame of health coverage to include factors such as education, income, neighborhood and social network. Send questions or suggestions to joe@healthjournalism.org or @rojasburke.

When online commenters get nasty, it’s tempting to just write them off as trolls. But is it possible that sometimes journalists set the stage with cartoonish, stereotyped portrayals of the subjects in our stories, particularly when writing about people who are poor or homeless or undocumented immigrants? Can well-meaning but uncareful journalism about marginalized people do more harm than good?

These are worthy questions posed in a blog by Lori Kleinsmith, who works as a health promoter for a community health center in Ontario, Canada. Kleinsmith says:

The challenge with writing a story about someone living in poverty is that it is really just a snapshot that is unable to display a deeper context of the experience of poverty firsthand. The pathways into and out of poverty are much more complex than a snapshot and many readers are unable to see beyond the surface and to be empathetic to a person’s circumstances, choosing instead to speculate or criticize. There can also be a pitting of the working poor against those in receipt of publicly funded social assistance programs, an “undeserving poor versus deserving poor” battle. The real systemic issues about how to address poverty get lost in the war of words and degrading comments about one’s choices and lifestyle.

Kleinsmith asserts that journalists need to tell more complete stories “that provide evidence and not just emotion, and that do not further victimize those who are brave enough to speak out.” Continue reading