About AHCJ: General News

New AHCJ resource to help reporters cover medical research Date: 01/07/13

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. “Covering Medical Studies” is the fourth 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.

“Journalists are inundated daily with the latest medical studies,” said Len Bruzzese, executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. “AHCJ has long promoted the need to understand the essential building blocks of covering medical studies. At the same time, we have tried to teach that such coverage comes with a certain responsibility to keep this information in context. This core topic content will serve both demands.”

While AHCJ’s website already provides reference, education and training materials available to journalists about best practices in covering medical research, the new pages will offer a more central and cataloged collection of materials on the topic, with 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.

Atlanta-based writer Brenda Goodman is AHCJ’s topic leader on covering medical studies. She produces reporting guides, seeks out reliable resources, assigns stories and blogs regularly. Goodman has been a health and science reporter for 15 years across a variety of platforms. Her stories have appeared in Scientific American, The New York Times, Psychology Today, Self, Health, Parade and The Boston Globe. She is a regular news writer for WebMD. She has a master’s degree in science, health and environmental reporting from New York University.

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/medicalstudies.

“We want to help reporters produce the most accurate information for their readers, viewers and listeners from the plethora of research that is regularly released,” Christensen said. “Our resources will help journalists evaluate the relevance of research and translate it for the general public, noting limitations and other important details.

The creation of the medical studies pages was made possible by support from Columbia University Medical Center. The funders agreed reporters could use more help in reporting the myriad stories of aging. 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, aging and oral health. Other topics on the horizon include insurance, 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.