Author Archives: Barbara Mantel

About Barbara Mantel

Barbara Mantel (@BJMantel), an independent journalist, is AHCJ’s freelance community correspondent. Her work has appeared in CQ Researcher, Rural Health Quarterly, Undark, Healthline, and NPR, among others. She helps members find the resources they need to succeed as freelancers and welcomes your suggestions.

Journalism organizations that offer training, networking, industry news and more—recommendations from AHCJ members

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AHCJ is my favorite journalism association. I have made many friends networking at the annual conferences, found editors through PitchFest, obtained access to expensive journals, and discovered a variety of valuable resources on the website.

I also belong to other journalism organizations to supplement what AHCJ offers. I regularly visit websites such as the Poynter Institute and the National Press Club Journalism Institute for expert panels or tip sheets that would help me grow my business or improve as a journalist.

After asking other core topic leaders and members of AHCJ’s freelance committee for suggestions and doing my own research, I’ve compiled a list of links to organizations that I encourage all AHCJ members to check out. The list can be found at the Freelance Center’s Running a Business tab under the Networking and branding heading.

Freelance medical writer and editor Erin Boyle, a member of AHCJ’s freelance committee, recommends the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). “AMWA has been a great resource for me, particularly as an independent journalist, in providing me with the nuts and bolts of setting up my freelance business from sessions at its regional and national conferences,” Boyle said.

“It’s also a great organization to meet and network with a diverse group of medical writers and receive more education about the medical writing side of things,” Boyle added.

Fellow freelance committee member and independent journalist Katja Ridderbusch praises the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). “ICFJ has plenty of international fellowships, grants and educational opportunities, from webinars to conferences, and for journalists interested in international reporting or just tapping into an international network of journalists, this is a great organization to connect with,” Ridderbusch said.

Ridderbusch, who is originally from Germany, received an international reporting fellowship 20 years ago through ICFJ that brought her to the United States for three months. It was an “amazing experience that really opened my horizon, made me a better reporter and, literally, changed the course of my life,” she recalled. “I probably wouldn’t have immigrated to the U.S. without the experience.”

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Webinar: What solutions-focused journalism has to offer health care reporters

Photo by Kristin Wolff via Flickr

Some of my favorite pieces to report have been about solutions to social problems. These stories usually took me out of the office and into the field, which I always prefer to do when time — and pay — allows.

A few stories in particular stand out in my mind as having been great opportunities to learn something new and interesting. One examined how a rural hospital emergency department was able to reduce its prescribing of opioids. Another explored the responses of community health workers who were concerned that large health systems were subverting their mission. Continue reading

New FOIA tip sheet can help you get the government information you need

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Several freelancer members of AHCJ have asked for a tip sheet about making Freedom of Information Act/open records requests to federal, state and local government agencies. I have filed only a few such requests in my journalism career, so I reached out to an expert, subject librarian Katy Boss at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

Boss regularly helps journalism students file FOIA (federal government) and FOIL (state and local government) requests in New York (often referred to as Sunshine Law or open records requests in other states) and has written a clear and helpful guide. AHCJ has reprinted a lightly edited version as a tip sheet. At the bottom, I included links to the FOIA webpages of federal agencies of particular interest to health care journalists and links to two websites that provide open records information for every state. Continue reading

New and updated freelance market guides now available

Photo: Raul Pacheco-Vega via Flickr

It’s been a busy month getting market guides ready for the AHCJ website. I’d like to give a shout-out to Joseph Burns, AHCJ’s core topic leader for insurance, and to freelance medical writer and editor Erin Boyle for their help.

Three new freelance market guides and one updated guide have been posted on the AHCJ website. The guides for the Well section of The New York Times (created by Joseph), Cancer Today (created by Erin), and Next Avenue are new, and the Undark market guide is an update.

Our Freelance topic page now features 19 market guides, with more coming every month. Not all of them have been updated, but I’m working on that. Please email me with suggestions of publications you would like to see. Continue reading

Recording, transcribing just keep getting easier with new apps

Photo: andreahelenajacobsen via Flickr

Photo: andreahelenajacobsen via Flickr

Until several years ago, I typed up my interviews as they were happening. The process gave me a headache and made my fingers ache, but I didn’t want to add extra hours of work transcribing a recorded interview.

Now that one of my editors has agreed to reimburse me for some professional transcribing and inexpensive voice recognition programs are improving every year, I no longer need to multitask during interviews. I can focus on the conversation and not worry that my fingers are in the wrong position on the keyboard and the last few paragraphs I typed are gibberish. Continue reading