Category Archives: Infectious diseases

Science journalist Siri Carpenter says ‘follow the money’ to combat misinformation

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Siri Carpenter

Siri Carpenter

Among the biggest challenges for health and science writers over the past year is how best to respond to misinformation.

Siri Carpenter, co-founder of The Open Notebook, a science journalism non-profit, suggests focusing on the business side of misinformation and who’s profiting by pedaling false narratives to the public.

“I think it’s … important to recognize that we’re up against moneyed interests that are extremely invested in that this [false] information,” Carpenter said in a ‘How I Did It.’ “Misinformation isn’t out there by accident. It wasn’t just accidentally created, and then other people stumbled onto it.” Continue reading

Tips on picking good photos for vaccine stories

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.

MTA worker getting vaccinated

Photo: NY State MTA via Flickr

Those who have known me long enough have, at some point or another, heard one of my diatribes about poorly chosen vaccine photos in the media. These photos often feature screaming babies, wincing mothers, giant needles (usually medically inaccurate) and similarly negative images that can undermine public health. While it’s not a journalist’s job to promote public health per se, we certainly need to avoid undermining it. Continue reading

Ticks — and the diseases they carry — are likely becoming a big story in your area

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Photo: Jonathan Harford via Flickr

Photo: Jonathan Harford via Flickr

The mild winter in the U.S. suggests that it will be a busy year for ticks — just as more Americans are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disease ecologists told Grist magazine that there is an uptick in people reporting ticks on their pets and themselves throughout the country, raising the risk there will be an increase in Lyme disease and other tick-borne related illnesses in 2021.

“All these people complaining of a horrendous year” with ticks, Rick Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., told Grist. “They’re actually right.” Continue reading

How the pandemic turned a local reporter into an award-winning data journalist

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Photo: Petra Wessman ia Flickr

Before the pandemic, National Public Radio reporter Alex Smith conducted most of his interviews in person.

But as the pandemic limited his access to people, he turned to other sources for story ideas and research – public health data and social media.

“I turned into this data journalist, which was an eye-opening experience,” said Smith, who was the second-place winner for beat reporting in the 2020 Excellence in Health Journalism Awards. “I enjoyed it more than I expected. I got a new appreciation for data journalism.” Continue reading

Worst of COVID may be yet to come in Africa

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Transmission electron micrograph of two SARS-CoV-2 virus particles

Photo: NIAID via Flickr

For global health reporters watching for the next COVID-19 story, health officials warn that all eyes should remain on Africa, where COVID-19 could spread uncontrollably.

Though the surge of COVID-19 cases that occurred in South Africa earlier in 2021 has somewhat eased, there is potential for new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to enter Africa via visitors other hotspots, such as India, and quickly overwhelm already weakened health systems in many African countries.

“A lot of countries actually assume that the worst is over because (they think) the African population for some reason is different, (that) it is a young population (or there were) prior infections or something (that) might have protected them innately … but Africa is not out of the woods yet,” University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of medicine Dawd Siraj, M.D. said during a May 12 Infectious Diseases Society of America briefing on global health and COVID-19. “Look at India; everyone assumed India had dodged a bullet and now look at what is happening. My fear is that the worst is yet to come” in Africa. Continue reading