How one longtime beat reporter is keeping the Medicaid story fresh

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Photo: Lynn Friedman via Flickr

Photo: Lynn Friedman via Flickr

Huffington Post health care reporter Jeffrey Young has written about Medicaid expansion. And written more about Medicaid expansion. And written … you get the point.

Young was still plenty interested in Medicaid expansion and wanted his readers to be too. But he realized it was time to think up a new way of engaging readers.  It’s especially important with “slow-moving stories you cover iteratively over a period of months and years,” he said. Stories like Medicaid expansion.

In a new How I Did It article, Young explains how he analyzed his quandary – and how it led him to a new partnership with graphics and data journalists to help him tell it anew.

“Over the past three-plus years, I’ve written numerous stories about the policy, political, economic and human interest aspects of the Medicaid expansion, and each tended to focus narrowly on one or a few states or broadly about the overarching debate,” he writes. “Because the Medicaid expansion is such a crucial part of the Affordable Care Act and in particular the dramatic reduction in the uninsured rate, I wanted to come up with a new method of presenting this information that would appeal to those who’d been following the story, and attract interest from those who hadn’t.”

So Young, a print reporter, connected with video, graphics and multimedia experts to figure out how to tell the story of Medicaid expansion visually – with elements such as timelines, interactive maps and charts. One aspect employed Gallup polling data to show the decline of uninsurance in expansion states compared with nonexpansion states “a phenomenon that’s more striking visually than it is when explained with words.”

Read more about how he kept the story fresh.

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