AHCJ member Scott Hensley, founding editor of and former contributor to The Wall Street Journal‘s Health Blog, joins National Public Radio on Monday as part of its expanded health coverage.
Vikki Valentine, NPR’s supervising science editor for digital news, says Hensley is one of two additions to the Web health staff. The other is producer Kathleen Masterson, who will develop and coordinate special projects.
Hensley will blog about the news of the day and develop a tone and strategy for NPR’s health blog, as well as build a following. Eventually he will work on longer format stories for use on the site and on the air. Valentine says she expects the rest of the health staff will contribute more to the blog.
“I think once Scott comes aboard, you can expect to see more contributions to the blog from Richard Knox, Julie Rovner and health editors Joe Neel and April Fulton. And we’ll continue to have the wonderful Deborah Franklin file blog posts for us, too. She’s been running the blog for the past two months – in between editing and reporting stints here. She gives the blog such a warm and thoughtful touch, and that is definitely a goal we aspire to in our health coverage.”
The blog, which was started in April during the beginning of the H1N1 outbreak and was known as the Flu Blog, is getting a new name. “‘Shots: News For What Ails You’ is the current working name, but we’re still waiting for final approval from NPR’s legal department. We hope to launch the new look and feel for the blog, as well as Scott’s role in it, around mid-August,” Valentine says.
Hensley, who has been contributing to Covering Health since the end of April, is looking forward to starting his new job.
“I’m really enthusiastic about the chance to be part of NPR’s expansion of health coverage online. The journalistic standards that the organization brings are unparalleled,” Hensley says. “The mark that the folks there have made in covering health is tremendous, and there’s a real enthusiasm for using NPR’s considerable resources online in a way that I think will be valuable and really appealing to people interested in health.”
Valentine calls Hensley “a stand out in health journalism” and says “His experience at the Wall Street Journal in reporting, editing, blogging and social media make him a rare talent.” She says they have deliberately waited to fully develop a strategy for the blog to allow Hensley to make changes and bring his ideas to bear.
“And while I value his exceptional background, what really struck me during our interviews was how much he thinks about blogging and blog strategy. He’s really passionate about it, and really interested in constantly pushing this digital world forward. He’s definitely not the type to start a project, give it shape, and then sit back and say, ‘Well, that’s good enough for now.’ He’s always thinking about how to tweak it, so that it’s constantly evolving, staying fresh and taking advantage of all the new digital tools out there.”
Hensley joined The Wall Street Journal in 2000 and covered health care and the pharmaceutical industry for seven years as reporter. After two years as a news editor in the New York health and science bureau, he left the paper in March 2009. Previously, he wrote for Modern Healthcare and American Banker. Before becoming a journalist, he worked in regulatory affairs at the medical devices unit of Siemens AG. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/scotthensley.