Author Archives: Felice J. Freyer

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's vice president and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.

Survey: Lack of access to public health experts hinders COVID-19 reporting

Chart: AHCJ Right to Know Committee Source: “Covering Covid” Survey | Fall 2020See more graphics of survey results below.

Reporters covering the COVID-19 pandemic have often been unable to speak directly with public health experts, hindering access to complete and accurate information, according to results of AHCJ’s “Covering Covid” survey.

Nearly half of respondents reported that “always,” “most of the time” or “about half the time” they had been blocked from speaking with public health experts. More than half said that press briefings in their area have been led by politicians rather than health experts, and those briefings often failed to answer critical questions. Continue reading

In right-to-know victory, appeals court rules that USDA must release food stamp sales data

Photo: Eric via Flickr

A South Dakota newspaper on Tuesday won a seven-year legal battle to obtain information about retailers who participate in the food stamps program. The ruling is a victory for government transparency on an issue that has been a subject of AHCJ advocacy.

The Argus Leader of Sioux Falls reported that a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on May 8 cleared the way for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to release information on how much money individual retailers make from participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the formal name for the food stamps program. Continue reading

Reporter shares tips on how to get good data despite privacy laws

Annie Waldman

Privacy laws, such as HIPAA, are the bane of health journalism. No matter how fervently you wish to preserve patient privacy, the legal protections often stand between you and a great story.

Unless you know the ways around them.

ProPublica’s Annie Waldman is an expert in overcoming or sidestepping privacy barriers. Continue reading

HHS officials pledge availability to reporters

Media officers for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have promised to make top HHS officials available to answer reporters’ questions, after AHCJ President Ivan Oransky, M.D., called for a press conference with the HHS secretary and the administrator of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“We’re looking at ways to make our officials more available in multiple settings,” said Mark Weber, deputy assistant secretary for public affairs for human services. “It might not be a press conference but a series of venues.”

Continue reading

Journalists to learn about security, privacy tools and practices

Imagine you’re researching a story about a new medical device undergoing federal review. You send an email to a source seeking details. But unbeknownst to you, your email has been infected with malware. When your message is opened, the software secretly scours your source’s computer for insider information.

It’s a hypothetical situation – but not far-fetched, says Geoffrey King, a lawyer and lecturer who previously ran the Internet and technology policy program at the Committee to Protect Journalists. Continue reading

AHCJ adds to its ethical framework for journalists’ decisions

values-definitionAHCJ’s board of directors has voted unanimously to add a new item to its Statement of Principles, the association’s compendium of professional and ethical guidelines.

These principles lie at the core of AHCJ’s mission to promote the highest standards of health care journalism, and have been little changed since the organization was founded.

Adding a new principle is a significant move that may prove especially relevant in the years ahead. Continue reading