About AHCJ: General News

AHCJ launches Web resource about ‘oral health’ for reporters Date: 09/21/12

Contact: Len Bruzzese, AHCJ, 573-884-5606

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Association of Health Care Journalists has rolled out another Core Curriculum topic on its website. “Oral health” is the third in a series of core topic subject areas making up the curriculum. It is one of at least a dozen key subject areas the organization believes today’s health journalists will need to master to cover the beat well.

“Oral health too often falls off the health care radar,” said Len Bruzzese, executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. “Once reporters see its impact on quality of life for so many people, they will recognize the valuable stories to be found just down the street.”

While AHCJ’s website already provides some reference, education and training materials available to journalists on the topic of oral health, the new pages will provide significantly more while also centralizing and cataloging topic materials. It also adds the practical daily guidance of a lead editor who specializes in the topic.

Each specialty topic page includes glossaries, key concepts, reporting tip sheets, weekly blog items, first-person stories by fellow journalists, videos, data and more. The topic home page serves as a launch pad to more resources on the healthjournalism.org site and elsewhere.

Washington, D.C., writer Mary Otto is AHCJ’s topic leader on oral health. She produces reporting guides, seeks out reliable resources, assigns stories and blogs regularly. Otto started covering oral health in 2007, writing for The Washington Post about the death of a child who had suffered complications from an untreated dental infection. She continues to write about oral health, as a freelance writer for the Post, drbicuspid.com, and other publications.

She works with Pia Christensen, AHCJ’s managing editor/online services, to find the latest material, edit contributions and make the site as easy to navigate as possible. The resources can be found at healthjournalism.org/oralhealth.

“We look forward to helping reporters find relevant stories and resources in their communities on this important topic,” Christensen said. “There’s a wealth of stories to be explored, from fluoridation issues to new models of providing care.”

The creation of the oral health pages was made possible by support from The Pew Charitable Trusts. The funder was enthusiastic about journalists finding and sharing information that improves coverage of oral health. Although the organization provided funding, it did not seek to influence any of the materials on the pages, Bruzzese said.

AHCJ previously launched core topics on health reform and on aging. Work has started on a core topic about covering medical studies and other topics on the horizon include hospitals, social determinants and more.

The Association of Health Care Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues. With more than 1,300 members across the United States and around the globe, its mission is to improve the quality, accuracy and visibility of health care reporting, writing and editing. The association and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism provide training, resources and a professional home for journalists. Offices are based at the Missouri School of Journalism.