More than 550 people gathered in St. Louis earlier this month for Health Journalism ’23, with at least 300 organizations represented.
As always, old friends and colleagues reconnected while new friendships and work relationships were formed, facilitated by the nearly 40 meetups created during the event and 3,000-plus messages sent to the community board in the conference app, Whova.
Two field trips, seven featured speakers, a wide variety of panel discussions, two evening receptions, the annual awards luncheon, plus a bonus trip to the historic Gateway Arch drew great reviews. Attendance was slightly higher than last year’s conference in Austin.
AHCJ’s Board of Directors held its twice-yearly meeting the day before conference sessions began. They discussed trends in membership growth, heard updates on AHCJ’s website redesign, and learned about implementation of the new mentorship program.
Other conference highlights
- In an inspiring keynote address moderated by board member Marlene Harris-Taylor, Pulitzer-prize-winning author Tracy Kidder and physician to the homeless Jim O’Connell, M.D., talked about Kidder’s newest book, “Rough Sleepers: Dr. Jim O’Connell’s Urgent Mission to Bring Healing to Homeless People.” The discussion delved into the causes and complex solutions to homelessness and how journalists can improve their reporting on the subject.
- In a fireside chat moderated by AHCJ Executive Director Kelsey Ryan, former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams talked about growing up with severe asthma in rural Maryland and what it taught him about health inequities. Adams, who is now a presidential fellow, executive director of health equity initiatives and a distinguished professor of practice in the Departments of Pharmacy Practice and Public Health at Purdue University in Indiana, also addressed some of the criticisms he faced while working under former President Donald Trump. He called upon journalists to help make health news relevant to readers by using data from their communities and to try to be as apolitical as possible in reporting on health.
- At PitchFest, AHCJ’s signature freelance event, 48 writers pitched their story ideas to 19 editors from publications including The Pulse, AARP, Juvenile Justice Info Exchange, MedPage Today and Mindsite News.
- During the “Malignant misinformation: The quest for a ‘cure,’” roundtable discussion, co-moderated by Kaiser Family Foundation Senior Fellow Irving Washington and Washington Post reporter Lauren Weber, the discussion focused on what technology companies, medical journals and health communicators can do collaboratively to counter harmful falsehoods before they snowball. Google/YouTube Director and Global Head Healthcare and Public Health Garth Graham and JAMA editor-in-chief Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo were the featured speakers.
- Recipients of the 2022 Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism were also recognized in 14 reporting categories.
If you missed the conference or are looking for session summaries and resources, check out coverage on AHCJ’s website, visit the conference page in Novi or browse the conference media gallery to view photos from sessions, receptions and more.
The conference was hosted by Washington University in St. Louis/BJC Healthcare and Missouri Foundation for Health. Endowing sponsors included the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.