Reporter shares lessons from writing first-person medical stories

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Late last year, the Concord (New Hampshire) Monitor ran a series of stories in which reporter Meg Heckman used her own struggles with hepatitis C as a lens through which to examine the nation’s epidemic. Now, she’s shared the lessons she learned during her effort as both reporter and source in a Poynter article. If you’re not familiar with the story, I recommend taking three minutes to review the the video piece that accompanied the story. The final 90 seconds, in particular, really get to the heart of Heckman’s internal conflict.

The lessons Heckman took from the experience include the vulnerability of becoming a news source, the importance of structuring your story both for web and print, and the ins and outs of researching (and then exposing) your own personal and medical life.

2 thoughts on “Reporter shares lessons from writing first-person medical stories

  1. Elaine Schattner, MD

    Interesting post. I appreciate that the “reporter’s” background and bias – her lack of objectivity – are up-front. I wish more journalists would admit of their personal motivation and life-experiences that influence their writing and choice of beat.

  2. Ali McNally, "reporter"

    Interesting comment. She’s a real reporter. No need to attach quotes to the title, since she bared her soul before the camera. But perhaps that’s a hard concept to understand for someone who tacks on a title after their name in a post where they aren’t giving medical advice.

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