Health Journalism 2019 sets attendance record

Cynthia Craft

About Cynthia Craft

Cynthia Craft (@cynthiahcraft) is the director of engagement for AHCJ, joining the organization after an extensive career in daily journalism, including a decade on the health care beat. Craft most recently worked as a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee, having also worked for the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Times Herald and the California Journal.

Drawn by an influential lineup of speakers and panels – plus an intriguing offering of field trips – more than 800 conference-goers helped make AHCJ’s Health Journalism 2019 in Baltimore a record-setter in attendance.

In AHCJ’s 20 years of annual conferences, the increase in attendance has mirrored the public’s level of interest in health news and need for clear, accurate health care reporting. Today, health-care pocketbook issues, partisan politics and worrisome matters such as the re-emergence of measles and stubborn drug dependence epidemics are seen as topics likely to be front and center in upcoming elections.

From May 2 to May 5, health journalists attended more than 60 panels, including a carefully curated lineup guiding independent journalists toward success and informative sessions on how to cover aspects of the scientific revolution of genetics.

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Boning up on unfamiliar research areas can pay off with specialized knowledge, more assignments

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: bc the path via Flickr

In a recent social media post, a fellow journalist asked how others get up to speed on reporting about topics new to them, or even covering a new subtopic within an area they already cover. Here’s some of what was shared in that online discussion, and I encourage others to share their tips in the comments as well.

If it’s a quick piece with a tight turnaround and I find I’m out of my depth, I go back to the editor and say so. I’ve turned down assignments even after taking them if I realize I just don’t have the necessary foundational knowledge. Continue reading

Get involved: Run for a spot on AHCJ’s board of directors

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Candidacy statements for AHCJ’s annual board elections are now being accepted.

Each year, members in AHCJ’s professional category elect members for the association board of directors. (Associate and allied members cannot run for election or cast ballots.)

Six of the 12 director positions come up for election each year for two-year terms, although incumbent board members are allowed to run for re-election. Continue reading

Reporter drew on life experience to report on inadequate prison dental care

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Much remains unknown about the oral health status of more than two million incarcerated Americans, but research suggests that many dental needs go unmet behind bars.

Reporting on the problem can be challenging. But in a recent project we wrote about, Keri Blakinger, who covers breaking news, prisons and the death penalty for the Houston Chronicle, found a way to document the desperate wait for dentures in Texas state prisons. Continue reading

Investigations put focus on infection control in dental offices

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: John Ong via Flickr

Two high-profile safety breaches have highlighted the importance of close adherence to infection control protocols in dental clinics and offices.

In both recent cases, patients have been advised to undergo testing for HIV and hepatitis B and C due to possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

In Seattle and nearby Vashon Island, news broke in early April that nearly 1,300 students face infection risks because equipment used in school clinics was improperly sterilized. Ten school-based dental clinics operated by Neighborcare, a local health center have been impacted by the safety breach. Continue reading

Panel learns why there’s no easy fix for high drug prices

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJMartin Van Trieste

One of the best sessions at Health Journalism 2019 in Baltimore was the panel discussion about drug prices on May 3, “Of price spikes and shortages: New initiatives to increase patient access to generic and biosimilar drugs.” Wendy Wolfson, an independent journalist from Irvine, Calif., moderated the discussion.

Perhaps the most interesting of the four panel members was Martin Van Trieste, president and CEO, Civica Rx, a nonprofit manufacturer of generic drugs for hospitalized patients. Seven of the nation’s largest health systems have invested in Civica and their representatives will serve on its board of directors along with representatives from three philanthropies: the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Peterson Center on Healthcare, and the Gary and Mary West Foundation. Continue reading