Professionals aren’t the only journalists coming to Boston #ahcj13

A look at some of the issues, sessions and ideas to keep in mind for those planning to attend Health Journalism 2013, the annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

While many of the 700 attendees at Health Journalism 2013 in Boston will be professional reporters and editors, there will be about 40 students sitting alongside them.

Eric Jankiewicz, a 22-year-old graduate student, will be making the trip to Boston with the rest of his health reporting class from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.

“We’re going because our professor said it’s a really good way to ingratiate yourself in the health and science community,” said the New York native.

Jankiewicz said he became interested in health journalism while reporting on crime and drugs as an undergraduate at New York’s John Jay College. He said he was sometimes reporting on topics, such as synthetic marijuana, that he didn’t fully understand.

“When I went to grad school, I saw the health and science concentration as the perfect way for me to learn about writing about those issues,” Jankiewicz added.

Anjali Thomas, a student from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, also is planning to be in Boston for the conference.

The 32-year-old Thomas, who already has about a decade of reporting experience, said she first got interested in health journalism while working at a media organization in India, where she was born.

“I found myself doing a lot of planning and rewriting and working with reporters on health stories,” she said.

While at the conference, Thomas said she’ll be doing some research for her master’s thesis on palliative care, and hopes to meet editors who would be interested in stories from India.

“I do want to return to India. That I know. There is a lot of scope for writing stories that need to be told,” she said.

Jankiewicz also said he wants to connect with editors who might be interested in stories from him.

“Just because of the climate of journalism, I don’t know whether I’m setting my sights on traditional types of jobs,” he said. “I just want to have a certain number of editors that will hear my pitches out.”

Jankiewicz and Thomas may be in luck, according to Casey Capachi, who attended the 2012 conference in Atlanta.

“I really appreciate the balance between learning the health care and policy issues we can do stories on, but there is also a lot of focus on career advice,” said Capachi, 23, a student at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Capachi said she first got interested in health reporting while working for one of her school’s publications that covered a community near her school.

“With every story I did it sort of had a health backbone. As I did more stories on health care, they became my favorite,” she said.

Capachi added that on top of the sessions, she’s also looking forward to the field trip.

“Last time it was really a great networking opportunity. It was a lot of fun to visit Emory [University] and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], where you wouldn’t have access without AHCJ’s help.”

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