In memoriam: Journalists remember Sharon Begley as a giant in science journalism

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.

Sharon Begley

Photo: Courtesy of StatSharon Begley

Sharon Begley, a science journalist who was as well known for her kindness and generosity as she was for her phenomenal reporting, passed away from lung cancer on Jan. 16. Though she was reporting for Stat at the time of her death, her career of 43 years also included work – and countless awards – while at Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters.

Described by one previous mentee as “brilliant, kind, hilarious, wise,” Begley reported until the very end, filing her final story five days before her death, as her Stat colleague, Eric Boodman, wrote in his moving obituary of this “science writing royalty.” If there was any question how far-reaching and influential her work was, consider that among the outpouring of condolences for her passing were words from NIH Director Francis Collins, physician Atul Gawande, the research institute Fred Hutch, and the National Center for Science Education. Her words could be so enchanting one of her quotes has even been misattributed to Carl Sagan. Continue reading

Welcome AHCJ’s newest members

About Andrew Smiley

Andrew Smiley is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He is an assistant professor of professional practice at the Missouri School of Journalism. Smiley comes to AHCJ from a sports broadcasting background, including nearly a decade at the Golf Channel/NBC Sports and a decade at ESPN, where he won an Emmy.

welcomePlease welcome these new professional and student members to AHCJ.

All new members are welcome to stop by this post’s comment section to introduce themselves. Continue reading

Reporting responsibly on COVID-19 vaccines requires knowing the research landscape

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.

Coronavirus CG Illustration

Photo: Yuri Samoilov via Flickr

A new New York Times perspective piece on whether we’re underselling the various COVID-19 vaccines had public health Twitter abuzz on Jan. 18, with responses ranging from high fives to intense critique. My reaction was in the latter camp. The points I made in this thread (unrolled here) are essential to consider for all journalists reporting on all vaccines and for this virus in particular. I’ve touched on these issues multiple times in the past, particularly the importance of knowing:

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Toolkit offers COVID-19 vaccine story ideas, survey findings on vaccine attitudes

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.

One of the video resources available at the NAB-RJI Vaccine Education Toolkit.

Image & video: NAB-RJI Vaccine Education ToolkitOne of the video resources available at the NAB-RJI Vaccine Education Toolkit.

Journalists reporting on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine have a new tool to guide their coverage: a Vaccine Education Toolkit that includes survey results on audience attitudes and needs, B-roll and multimedia, webinars, recommended experts and tips on reaching specific audiences. This resource may be a helpful complement to the AHCJ’s extensive resources on reporting about the pandemic.

The bilingual website was developed by three groups: the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS). RJI is a part of the Missouri School of Journalism and the NACDS is an industry trade group representing traditional drug stores, supermarkets and mass merchants with pharmacies. Continue reading

Major COVID-19 vaccine ad campaign to roll out next week

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Dr. Anthony Fauci getting his vaccination.

Photo: NIAID via FlickrDr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, received his COVID-19 vaccination.

Journalists covering the COVID-19 vaccine rollout should watch out on Jan. 21 for the Ad Council’s unveiling of an advertising campaign to increase the public confidence getting vaccinated.

The nonprofit group, which led the advertising campaign to garner public support for the polio vaccine in the 1950s, plans to focus especially on communities of color, which polls show are skeptical of the vaccine. Continue reading

Court settlement grants Florida paper access to COVID-19 reports

About Naseem Miller

Naseem S. Miller (@NaseemMiller) is in her final week as senior reporter, health, at the Orlando Sentinel. On Jan. 19, she will start as senior editor, health at Journalist’s Resource.

scales of justiceThe state of Florida last week settled a lawsuit with the Orlando Sentinel, agreeing to provide weekly COVID-19 reports within two days and pay the newspaper’s legal costs.

It was a victory for the newspaper, and for press freedom. Our experience contains lessons – and encouragement – for other newsrooms facing obstruction by state or local officials.

Before filing suit, we persistently sought the documents for weeks, through informal and formal channels. We repeatedly told our readers about our efforts and the state’s decision to withhold information, keeping the issue alive in the public’s eye. Continue reading