Category Archives: Infectious diseases

Reporter helps readers dissect a pandemic conspiracy theory

Bara Vaida

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.

As misinformation about COVID-19 continues to proliferate in the digital world, journalists are challenged more than ever to debunk falsehoods and get accurate information to the public.

But how do journalists point out baseless information, without creating a “backfire effect” — essentially amplifying the falsehood or giving it legitimacy by writing about it? Continue reading

How COVID-19 may affect death rates not from the coronavirus

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.

NonCovidDeaths_Blog

Photo: Dennis Jarvis via Flickr

As many hospitals have struggled with a deluge of COVID-19 patients, which at times has prompted patients with other severe conditions to avoid hospitals if they feel they can, there’s a fear that non-COVID deaths will increase during the pandemic. A recent paper in BMJ looks at what the data so far suggests while noting we don’t know enough yet to draw conclusions. Continue reading

Panel highlights lack of data, obesity as among under-covered pandemic stories

Bara Vaida

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.

webcastKentucky, Nebraska, Nevada and North Dakota are the only four states in the U.S. that (as of May 13) have provided zero disaggregated data on the racial and ethnic impact of COVID-19 on its residents, even as there is a growing body of evidence nationwide demonstrating the pandemic is having a disproportionate effect on communities of color.

This lack of transparency in key parts of the country is among several under-covered stories for reporters to pursue in their communities, according to panelists who offered advice on covering disparities and COVID-19 at an AHCJ webcast on May 13. Continue reading

Sources, studies and self-care: AHCJ freelancers give advice on COVID-19 coverage

Carolyn Crist

About Carolyn Crist

Carolyn Crist (@cristcarolyn) helps AHCJ’s freelance members find the resources, tips and contacts they need to create and run a successful business. A freelance journalist and author, Crist covers health, medicine and science stories for national news outlets such as Reuters, Runner’s World and Parade. She also writes for trade and custom publications. Contact her at carolyn@healthjournalism.org.

reporter-taking-notesAs many health care journalists have reported that they’re covering “all COVID, all the time” during the past two months, AHCJ freelancers offered their advice about the best ways to approach reporting and writing, as well as their own mental health while working on assignments.

Overall, the advice highlights many of the principles that reporters already hold dear — choose your sources carefully, review the science behind published studies, and find ways to carve out personal time from a 24/7 news cycle.

Related to news coverage at this moment, the freelancers also suggested doing background research with new webcasts and press briefings online, finding story ideas in new communications and newsletters created by trusted sources, and creating a routine to stay on top of the most recent research.

Continue reading

Webcast can help you report on the impact of disparities on the pandemic

Bara Vaida

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.

skyline from some projects in The Bronx

Photo: Axel Drainville via Flickr

A growing body of data indicates that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting both communities of color and vulnerable populations such as incarcerated and homeless individuals.

Two studies earlier this month — one from AIDS research group amfAR and another from the Kaiser Family Foundation — found that communities of color and low-income individuals account for a higher percent of COVID-19 cases and deaths in comparison to the broader U.S. population. Since early April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been reporting more details about COVID-19 patients’ race and ethnicity, as well as underlying health issues, which has increased news coverage of this issue. Continue reading

Promise and pitfalls of preprints explored in AHCJ webcast

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.

Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

Photo: NIAID via FlickrTransmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

More than 50 health journalists and others participated in the April 30 AHCJ webcast on research preprints, but if you missed it, you can watch the recording here. Despite having written about coverage of preprints before, I learned a ton by listening to John Inglis, Ph.D.; Ivan Oransky, M.D.; and Angela Rasmussen Ph.D.

The opening presentation by Inglis, who co-founded the bioRxiv and medRxiv preprint servers, was particularly illuminating on the history of preprints and the criteria used to vet them — information I haven’t seen anywhere else in the multiple articles I’ve read and linked to about preprint media coverage. Continue reading