Spotlight Q&A with Marlene Harris-Taylor of Ideastream Public Media, Cleveland

Marlen Harris-Taylor, AHCJ Board Member

Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

How long have you been an AHCJ member, and who or what inspired you to join? 

I started as a health journalist in 2013 and joined AHCJ about a year after that, when I attended a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. I wanted to increase my knowledge and I heard about AHCJ through an advertisement. 

Where are you from and how far did you travel to this year’s  conference?

I am originally from Toledo, Ohio. I now live and work in Cleveland.

What do you think is the biggest asset of AHCJ and why?

I appreciate the AHCJ conferences because the panels have a mixture of journalists and professionals sharing their expertise. This national meeting brings journalists to a wonderful space to learn.

How have the resources AHCJ provides impacted your career?

One of the wonderful things that AHCJ does year-round is host training sessions. They also provide financial assistance for journalists to attend the sessions which is appreciated. I remember the first training that I attended. It included not only learning, but networking with journalists from across the country.

What keeps you coming back to these conferences? 

One of my favorite parts of the conference is that you always come away with ideas for a new story. At the AHCJ 2022 conference this weekend, I met an African American panelist from Chicago who started a company that assists Black and brown people in health care. Coincidentally, he is looking to expand to Cleveland. You’re learning and getting deeper knowledge, but you’re also getting the immediate benefit of stories that you can write.

How do you feel about attending the first in-person AHCJ annual conference since 2019, and why?

I don’t know about you but I have serious Zoom fatigue. I enjoy the process of meeting new people and also rekindling with old friends who I haven’t had the opportunity of seeing for the past two years.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen recently in health journalism?

I’ve recently read about the competition of pharmaceutical drugs and the price discrepancy. The way the system is set up, the more competition actually drives the prices to go up, which is crazy. That was one of those blow-my-mind moments.

What should we be reading right now and why? 

I think National Public Radio does a fantastic job of covering everything, including health. National Public Radio has a relationship with Kaiser Health News. So if you want to know what’s going on with health, staying on top of KHN and NPR’s websites; and if you’re in the Cleveland area, our Ideastream Public Media website. 

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