Category Archives: Freelancing

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

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, NBCNews.com and NPR, among others. She helps members find the resources they need to succeed as freelancers and welcomes your suggestions.

Photo by GotCredit via Flickr

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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The nuts and bolts of solutions-focused health care journalism

About Erica Tricarico

Managing Editor Erica Tricarico is a graduate of Howard University and the master’s program in journalism at CUNY. Tricarico comes to AHCJ from MJH Life Sciences in Cranbury, N.J., where she managed an editorial team producing content on animal care. Before that, she was a freelance health care reporter for Everyday Health.

People are increasingly avoiding the news, largely because they say it’s negatively impacting their mood, according to a 2019 Reuters digital news report. There may be a way to change that through solutions journalism, which doesn’t just report on problems; it aims to inform the public about how people and communities are responding to major social issues.

As Julia Hotz with the Solutions Journalism Network noted Tuesday in an AHCJ webcast, editors are on the lookout for pitches with a solutions focus. During the COVID-19 pandemic in particular, solutions-focused reporting has grown in popularity, said Hotz, a journalist who’s reported solutions stories for multiple publications including The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Continue reading

Editors already on board for virtual PitchFest, set for Oct. 27-28

About Jeanne Erdmann

Jeanne Erdmann is an award-winning health and science writer based in Wentzville, Mo. A member of AHCJ's board of directors, she is the chair of the organization's Freelance Committee. Her work has appeared in Discover, Women’s Health, Aeon, Slate, The Washington Post, Nature, Nature Medicine and other publications.

Although Health Journalism has been postponed until 2022, PitchFest is a go — in a virtual format like last year’s event.

Here is how PitchFest will work: The event will take place over two days, Wednesday, October 27, and Thursday, October 28, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. Participating editors will choose two-hour slots. Some may choose two consecutive hours, while others may select 30-minute slots that work best for their schedule. They may also choose to schedule slots on both days.

Each participant will have up to 10 minutes with each editor. Appointments will be 10 minutes without a break between appointments. Participants will have to keep careful watch on the time and start wrapping up pitches at 8 minutes, so everyone can remain on time. Continue reading

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

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, NBCNews.com and NPR, among others. She helps members find the resources they need to succeed as freelancers and welcomes your suggestions.

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

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, NBCNews.com and NPR, among others. She helps members find the resources they need to succeed as freelancers and welcomes your suggestions.

Image by EpicTop10.com via Flickr

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