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.

Vox reporter describes deep dive into medical studies on back pain

Two years ago Vox began a new feature section called Show Me the Evidence. In each piece, the reporter reviews several dozen recent studies on a specific question with the goal of summarizing the consensus of the evidence on that issue.

It’s important to provide context in any article about a single study or even a couple studies, but it’s not possible in daily journalism or even shorter features to dig deeply into all (or most of) the evidence on a specific topic and look at the big picture. Continue reading

AHCJ compiles tip sheet for reporting on sexual assault and harassment

The most recent wave of reporting on sexual abuse and sexual harassment began with the report on Harvey Weinstein’s decades of abuse in Hollywood, but other accusations of sexual assault and harassment by prominent figures continue to dominate the headlines. As more survivors of sexual assault and harassment come forward, journalists face a dual challenge.

First, they need to corroborate and fact check their stories as they would any other story, a necessity driven home recently by the Washington Post’s report of an attempt to deceive the paper into reporting a false accusation against Roy Moore, a nominee in Alabama for a U.S. Senate seat. Continue reading

Be sure terminology about transgender-related studies is appropriate

By Rumpusparable via Wikimedia Commons

More and more medical studies are focusing on research about transgender individuals: demographics, surgeries, insurance coverage, unique health needs, prevalence of mental health conditions, pregnancy, hormone therapy and any number of other issues and research questions related to transgender identity. That means journalists covering these studies need to be sure they are using appropriate terminology and not inadvertently reinforcing stereotypes or stigma. Continue reading

Editor won award for the story no one else seemed to want

“For a boy who needs routine, this day is off to a bad start. It’s early, just before 8 a.m., and unseasonably warm for June. Kyle, 17, has been up since 6:20 a.m., which isn’t all that unusual. But already, enough has happened to throw him off balance.”

So begins the story about Kyle, a nonverbal autistic teenager in Maryland who receives electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for autism. Kyle’s experience introduces readers to electroconvulsive therapy through the expert reporting of Apoorva Mandavilli, editor in chief of Spectrum and First Place winner of the 2016 AHCJ Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism in Consumer/Feature (small) category. Continue reading

Publication problems for Cornell nutrition researcher growing

Photo: Stefani via Flickr

We wrote back in March about the publication troubles of Brian Wansink, Ph.D., a media-friendly and prolific nutrition researcher and head of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab.

Things were looking dicey then as more and more red flags, including mathematically impossible mistakes, piled up in his past studies. That parade only seems to be picking up based on recent news reports and retractions. It’s worth continuing to follow this story because it contains so many cautions for journalists covering medical research, especially fun and fascinating research that “feels” true from a charismatic, interview-friendly researcher. Continue reading