Writing about think tanks and using their research: A cautionary tip sheet

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Most reporting on medical research relies on peer-reviewed studies published in medical journals. But independent corporations, nonprofits, advocacy organizations and other institutions conduct their own research. Moreover, they seek media coverage of their findings, usually (albeit not always) to serve their objectives and interests.

One such organization is a think tank, an organization ostensibly aimed at objectively researching and analyzing a particular issue and policy solutions to that issue – but, more often, influenced by an ideological bias that drives their findings. Continue reading

New hospital inspection reports added to website

Jeff Porter

About Jeff Porter

Jeff Porter is the special projects director for AHCJ and plays a lead role in planning conferences, workshops and other training events. He also leads the organization's data collection and data instruction efforts.

Photo: Norman Mosjos via Flickr

AHCJ has just updated the HospitalInspections.org website. The updated version adds 1,024 records of hospital inspection results, as recent as September. Most of the records show a detailed narrative of each deficiency among hospitals in the United States.

The website includes the results of government inspections of acute-care hospitals, critical-access (rural) hospitals and psychiatric hospitals resulting from complaints. The site now searches through 26,814 records. Continue reading

Efforts advance in Michigan to allow dental therapists

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.

A Michigan legislator has renewed efforts to expand the state’s dental workforce to include dental therapists as a means to get more care to underserved communities.

A bill, introduced in September by Republican state Senator Mike Shirkey, would allow dental therapists to begin working in Michigan.

The technically-trained workers, sometimes compared to nurse practitioners, would provide basic preventive and restorative care such as filling decayed teeth as part of dentist-headed teams. Continue reading

HHS officials pledge availability to reporters

Felice J. Freyer

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's vice president and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.

Media officers for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have promised to make top HHS officials available to answer reporters’ questions, after AHCJ President Ivan Oransky, M.D., called for a press conference with the HHS secretary and the administrator of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“We’re looking at ways to make our officials more available in multiple settings,” said Mark Weber, deputy assistant secretary for public affairs for human services. “It might not be a press conference but a series of venues.”

Continue reading

Norman Lear on aging, comedy and a happy life

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: Liz Seegert/AHCJ

“Am I older? Certainly. Am I old? Not yet.”

Norman Lear believes aging well has a lot to do with attitude. At 95, the producer, writer, director and activist is not slowing down. He just sold a new show to NBC, about – what else – aging. Continue reading