Author Archives: Tara Haelle

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.

Those images really are more than pretty pictures …

Photo: Tara Haelle

I just returned from the Logan Science Journalism Fellowship program at Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., and I’m excited to share some of the things I learned while there. The program itself — which I highly encourage folks to apply to — is different from any other health or science journalism program I’m aware of because there’s pretty much no journalism involved at all. Instead, it’s basic science that journalism fellows do. Continue reading

Gaining a deeper appreciation for the costs of basic science

Photo: Tara Haelle

It’s not difficult to understand why clinical trials are so incredibly expensive. There’s the recruitment of the participants and their compensation, the cost of the drugs themselves, the work that has to go into ensuring both participants and clinicians are appropriately blinded (at least in double-blinded trials), the many visits to monitor symptoms and improvement, the time spent crunching the data – the dollars add up fast.

It’s harder (at least for me) to grasp where all the money goes for basic science. It’s often just cells in a petri dish, along with the fancy (and very expensive) microscope and computer equipment needed to examine them. Continue reading

Nuance can help keep science ‘crises’ in context

Every journalist covering medical and other types of scientific research should read this thought-provoking open-access article recently published in PNAS: “Crisis or self-correction: Rethinking media narrative about the well-being of science.”

This piece by Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania is one of the best articles I’ve read about how to think about the big picture in our coverage of medicine and science and the public perception of media narratives about science. It’s one of those rare, important writings whose entire purpose is to examine the nuance that’s missing – yet essential – in the majority of science and medicine coverage. Continue reading

Understanding how to report on surveillance programs

Surveillance is the process or system for tracking cases of risk factors, medical conditions, disease cases, adverse events, etc.

It is often used to track incidence of a disease, such as keeping up with where measles cases are during an outbreak or where remaining polio cases are in the attempt to eradication the disease. It’s also used to track prevalence, such as the total number of women living with breast cancer, or adverse events, such as tracking hospital-acquired infections or possible side effects from vaccines or drugs that the FDA has already licensed. Continue reading

’13 Reasons Why:’ Are you ready for coverage of sensitive topics?

The second season of 13 Reasons Why, a controversial teen drama TV show, premiered May 18 on Netflix. Throughout its first season, loosely based on the award-winning book by Jay Asher, the show dealt in great detail with the suicide of a high school student, including its precursors and its aftermath. Now, the show has already drawn criticism for a rape scene this season. Continue reading