End-of-life project brings insights – and healing – for broadcast reporter and her listeners

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Vee via Flickr

Reporting on end of life can pose surprising challenges and opportunities.

If you haven’t yet listened to JoAnn Mar’s remarkable radio series on end-of-life issues, add it to your playlist right now. An AHCJ reporting fellowship allowed Mar to take a deeper dive into how people prepare for their last phase of life, and why good conversations with loved ones on the topic can be so important. The entire series, aired on KALW FM, San Francisco in January.

Mar is no newcomer to this issue. She’s been reporting on death and dying for more than 20 years, back when it wasn’t a story that many in the media covered. Has anything changed over the years? Through her fellowship project, Mar looked the issue through a more personal lens, in the process using her reporting skills as a way to manage her grief following the 2015 death of her mother.

Although end-of-life issues receive more press coverage today than in past decades, Mar found challenges in finding health professionals outside of hospice and palliative care environments who could speak comfortably and knowledgeably about the myriad issues involved in advance care planning and the dying process. In this new How I Did It for AHCJ, she describes her strategies for finding clinical experts, patients, and families who were willing to open up and go on record. Surprisingly, some of the greatest barriers came from the very hospices who should want to get the word out about their services.

You can read more about AHCJ’s prior coverage of palliative care and hospice issues here, here and here. AHCJ members can also check out our resources section and tip sheets on the issue. JoAnn Mar continues to report on end of life issues for KALW. Listen to her recent story on death over dinner.

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