Category Archives: Health journalism

Webcast: Understanding the path to a COVID-19 vaccine

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.

Photo: U.S. Pacific Fleet via Flickr

The race to develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is picking up speed with early promising results from initial studies, and President Trump predicting there will be “hundreds of millions of doses” of vaccine by the end of 2020.

Journalists have reported on these early results, as well as Trump’s comments, which may leave the public with a misunderstanding about the process of vaccine development. Continue reading

Run for a spot on AHCJ’s board of directors

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.

Candidacy statements for AHCJ’s annual board elections are now being accepted.

Each year, members in AHCJ’s professional category elect members for the association board of directors. (Associate and allied members cannot run for election or cast ballots.)

Six of the 12 director positions come up for election each year for two-year terms. Although incumbent board members are allowed to run for re-election, two have decided not to run again this year.

Continue reading

Reporters suddenly thrown into health beat need veterans’ support

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.

In an op-ed for the Columbia Journalism Review, Ivan Oransky, M.D., draws on an apt metaphor for reporters from other beats who are being assigned health-related stories during this pandemic.

“I imagine that the dread a newly transferred coronavirus reporter feels when faced with a PDF filled with statistics is the same as I would feel if —as a career-long doctor turned medical journalist — I was suddenly assigned to cover the statehouse.”

Continue reading

Fauci’s announcement of remdesivir trial findings leaves out crucial detail

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.

Most of the time, the most important aspect of reporting on medical research is ensuring that the coverage is accurate, precise, clear and understandable to the average reader, and includes adequate context, including cost, side effects, alternative treatments and previous data. Other times, the medium, or, rather, the literal physical setting and the framing surrounding the message, matter as much or more, as some have argued regarding Anthony Fauci’s recent announcement about the NIH trial findings on remdesivir from the Oval Office couch.

But, as Gary Schwitzer points out in his most recent blog post at HealthNewsReview.com, other details can be utterly crucial to the public’s understanding about potentially important findings about a drug, particularly during a pandemic: What a particular study was intended to do in the first place. Continue reading

What the CARES Act means for freelance writers now

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.

Photo: perzon seo via Flickr

Freelance writers and other independent contractors have faced obstacles in securing federal funds to help with lost income during the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, a second round of funding just approved may be worth a try.

Throughout April, the $350 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act allowed banks to dole out funds to small businesses, with the application for independent contractors and sole proprietors opening on April 10. Within a week, however, the funds ran out. Continue reading

How to find local public health sources for your coronavirus coverage

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.

Photo: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf via FlickrMicrobiologist Kerry Pollard performs a manual extraction of the coronavirus at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories.

Getting accurate data and information from local and state public officials is central to all journalists covering the COVID-19 pandemic, but what can reporters do when it’s hard to get local public health departments even to answer the phone or emails?

Local, state and federal budget constraints, over the past decade, have meant a loss of 56,000 jobs in the public health sector, including many public information officer and other communications positions. When the pandemic emerged in March, public health departments had few people with science backgrounds to communicate with the public. Continue reading