Category Archives: Freelancing

Boning up on unfamiliar research areas can pay off with specialized knowledge, more assignments

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.

Photo: bc the path via Flickr

In a recent social media post, a fellow journalist asked how others get up to speed on reporting about topics new to them, or even covering a new subtopic within an area they already cover. Here’s some of what was shared in that online discussion, and I encourage others to share their tips in the comments as well.

If it’s a quick piece with a tight turnaround and I find I’m out of my depth, I go back to the editor and say so. I’ve turned down assignments even after taking them if I realize I just don’t have the necessary foundational knowledge. Continue reading

Freelance investigative reporting may not be easy, but it’s possible

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.

Investigative reporting is not easy as a freelance journalist, but it’s not impossible either.

The Health Journalism 2019 session on investigative reporting for freelancers on Saturday revealed tips, resources and success stories to inspire freelancers to dig deeper into those suspicions they have about a story — and the hundreds or thousands of documents that it likely involves. Continue reading

Freelancers, editors explore ethics, integrity and transparency

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJEditor Brendan Maher stressed that writers should always be transparent about potential conflicts of interest.

While their hearts and training may lie with traditional objective journalism, many freelancers take on additional writing assignments in order to make ends meet. But when do these non-journalistic jobs present real or potential conflicts of interest with journalism?  How should writers and their editors address the ethical questions that may arise? In an evolving media landscape, how do freelance journalists maintain objectivity – and integrity – while paying the bills? Continue reading

Some advance work can help freelancers make the most of #ahcj19 conference

Cynthia Craft

About Cynthia Craft

Cynthia Craft (@cynthiahcraft) is the director of engagement for AHCJ, joining the organization after an extensive career in daily journalism, including a decade on the health care beat. Craft most recently worked as a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee, having also worked for the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Times Herald and the California Journal.

So far, it’s looking as if our upcoming Health Journalism 2019 conference in Baltimore May 2-5 is going to be one of our largest and busiest info-packed gatherings ever.

As the event grows nearer, here’s a handy checklist to help independent journalists, in particular, get ready.

Before the conference, you’ll want to go to our online freelance directory to: Continue reading

AHCJ unveils fellowships on women’s health

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

The Association of Health Care Journalists and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health announced they will collaborate this year to present the first Fellowships on Women’s Health.

The program will allow a small group of journalists to spend several days in Washington, D.C., focused on increasing their understanding of and ability to report more deeply on health issues that are often unique to women or require a different approach.

“We are happy to get a chance to work with the Office on Women’s Health on this new program,” said Len Bruzzese, AHCJ’s executive director. “Along with a chance to dive into these important topics, our fellows will be exposed to reliable sources they can call upon later, develop skills for tapping into trustworthy source material when doing their own research and come away with lots of story ideas worth pursuing.”

Continue reading →

What was that number again …? The solution to re-using stats in your writing

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.

Photo: kerolic via Flickr

Like many reporters, I have developed several niches in my reporting within medical research. I most often write about pediatrics, women’s health, mental health, vaccines, public health (including gun violence) and, increasingly, health disparities or related social justice aspects of health and medicine.

Because I try to include links throughout my writing to back up the figures I use to provide context on a topic, I would frequently find myself looking up the same data again and again. For topics like vaccines, it usually wasn’t too difficult to find studies or statistics I had previously cited. They were generally easy to find on the CDC website, or I could remember a couple key articles I’d written where I linked to the majority of the figures I might want to link to again. Continue reading