Otto to lead AHCJ’s resources on oral health

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Journalist Mary Otto will be AHCJ’s oral health topic leader, helping members stay on top of the news as it relates to this important but sometimes overlooked aspect of health care through timely blog posts, fact sheets, tip sheets and articles.

Mary Otto

Mary Otto

Otto is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist who began writing about oral health at The Washington Post, where she worked for eight years covering social issues including health care and poverty.

In 2007, she wrote the story of 12-year-old Deamonte Driver, a Maryland child covered by Medicaid who died after bacteria from a dental infection spread to his brain. The death of the boy spurred congressional hearings, a revamping of Maryland’s Medicaid dental system and increased attention to oral health access for Medicaid children nationwide.

After leaving the Post in a newsroom downsizing, Otto spent an academic year as a 2009-10 Knight Science Journalism Fellow studying oral health and public health at Harvard University. Her ongoing exploration of barriers to dental care in poor communities has been assisted by a California Endowment Dennis A. Hunt Fund grant.

Otto has continued to write about oral health and other health and social issues as a freelance writer for the Post, a contributing writer for an online publication for oral health professionals called DrBicuspid.com, and as the editor of Street Sense, a newspaper produced and sold by homeless men and women in Washington, D.C.

The oral health topic pages will join AHCJ’s Core Topic pages on health reform and aging. The Core Topic pages are an effort to curate the organization’s resources, data and story ideas using “topic champions” – lead editors – to shape this material into practical guidance in covering stories on those topics. The oral health effort will be made possible thanks to support from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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 will serve as a launch pad to more resources, on healthjournalism.org and elsewhere.

Core TopicsHealth ReformAgingOther Topics

Future Core Topic pages will include:

  • Hospitals
  • Health Professionals
  • Health Insurance
  • Health Information Technology
  • Medical Studies
  • … and several others.

Members are invited to contact Otto via email (mary@healthjournalism.org) with questions or suggestions about what to include on the core topic site.

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