About AHCJ: General News

Annual conference to offer panels, field trips and more Date: 03/04/10

• Discounted early-bird registration ends March 15.

• Visit the conference home page

Conference schedule is available.


If you have general conference questions, please contact Ev Ruch-Graham, AHCJ training coordinator, at 573-884-8103 or ev@healthjournalism.org.

If you have registration or fellowship questions, please contact us at 573-884-5606 or info@healthjournalism.org.

The annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists will feature a Newsmaker Briefing by Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frieden assumed the role last summer at the height of the public's attention to the H1N1 flu pandemic.

Health Journalism 2010 , set for April 22-25 in Chicago, is expected to draw hundreds of reporters, editors, news directors and producers for the latest information on covering health issues for consumer and trade audiences.

In a year in which health reform debate has reached a fevered pitch, a special "Assessing Health Reform" track will devote several panels to related questions. Angles include: comparative-effectiveness research, the health of hospitals, whether we are facing doctor shortages, the pros and cons of regional cost comparisons and what's ahead for state and local governments.

The conference will include dozens of panels with a mix of journalists and topic experts. Some of the participants: Michael Taylor, the new food czar for the Food and Drug Administration; Mark Chassin, president of the Joint Commission; food desert guru Mari Gallagher; Phil Fontanarosa, executive deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association; Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society; as well as investigative reporters and medical writers from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, ProPublica, The Associated Press and the Huffington Post Investigative Fund.

"The Chicago area is home to some of the top research and clinical efforts taking place in the United States," said Len Bruzzese, AHCJ's executive director. "Our local planning committee of reporters and editors was able to point out many of the great resources we were able to tap into for the conference."

Field trips will start early Thursday and include a stop at the Feinberg School of Medicine where reporters will take part in a mini-med school, observing and using a new simulation center. Attendees also will visit one of the nation's largest neonatal intensive care units, a secured level III facility for premature and seriously ill newborns. And they will visit a bionic medicine lab and robotics lab. (Other field trip stops were being arranged at press time.)

Attendees arriving later Thursday will want to sit in on the classroom sessions. Titled "Finding untold health story ideas in data and maps," the sessions will focus on two key topics: tools for tracking health care costs and using data to depict the health of your local population. Instructors will include experts from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, leading journalists through practical exercises to authoritatively report on health care dynamics in their own communities.

Health Journalism 2010Journalists attending the Thursday afternoon sessions are encouraged to bring their laptops and follow along. Instructors will explain and apply data sources and online mapping resources that can be used in stories and projects. Attendees will leave with new skills, more insight into data available at no cost and story ideas.  

The spotlight luncheon panel on the Friday of the conference – "Influenza! Lessons learned from a year of H1N1" – will feature the CDC's leading H1N1 expert Anne Schuchat, M.D.; Jefferey Levi, Ph.D., executive director, Trust for America's Health; and Litjen Tan, Ph.D., director of medicine and public health for the American Medical Association and co-chair of the National Influenza Vaccine Summit.

Also on Friday, the Freelance PitchFest will return to the conference. Editors from some of the top magazines, newspapers and Web sites will be available for one-on-one conversations with AHCJ freelance members. The PitchFest gives freelancers a chance to offer story ideas and share business cards with editors from selected publications. Freelancers are encouraged to sign up early for the sessions, which never fail to fill up fast.

Other sessions covering every angle of health – including science, medicine, money, politics and policy – will continue through Friday until midday Sunday. Attendees will have opportunities to learn about the trends of aging, both policy and science; the future of women's health research; spotting conflicts of interest in medical research; how state budgets impact the health of poor people; and more.

The conference will end on Sunday with a series of how-to sessions, including experts coaching their audiences about using online resources such as the Cochrane Library, PubMed and ClinicalTrials.gov; building and generating traffic on your Web site or blog; and using hospital quality data to investigate your  local area. The how-to Sunday panels are designed to build upon what the attendees learned during the conference, applying those newfound skills in their own beats and workplaces.