Category Archives: Health journalism

A reporter went public when denied an interview. Here’s what happened next …

Felice J. Freyer

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's vice president and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.

By AlvesgasparOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, LinkReporter David Abel was denied access to talk to the Massachusetts state ornithologist about barn swallows.

David Abel had had enough.

The Boston Globe’s environmental writer was used to being denied interviews with state scientists and officials. But this latest refusal from the administration of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker was just too absurd.

Abel had been forbidden to speak with the state ornithologist. (Yes, this is Massachusetts, we have such an official.) His topic was not politically sensitive. Continue reading

Health Journalism 2019 sets attendance record

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.

Drawn by an influential lineup of speakers and panels – plus an intriguing offering of field trips – more than 800 conference-goers helped make AHCJ’s Health Journalism 2019 in Baltimore a record-setter in attendance.

In AHCJ’s 20 years of annual conferences, the increase in attendance has mirrored the public’s level of interest in health news and need for clear, accurate health care reporting. Today, health-care pocketbook issues, partisan politics and worrisome matters such as the re-emergence of measles and stubborn drug dependence epidemics are seen as topics likely to be front and center in upcoming elections.

From May 2 to May 5, health journalists attended more than 60 panels, including a carefully curated lineup guiding independent journalists toward success and informative sessions on how to cover aspects of the scientific revolution of genetics.

Continue reading 

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

Diversifying your sources can improve your reporting

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

It’s an easy trap to fall into: call the hospital public relations department and ask to speak with an authority about your topic. Chances are good you will end up interviewing an older, typically white, male doctor.

And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, if you’re only talking to one group of experts, you’re missing out on vital sources which can add rich, diverse perspectives to your stories, according to the journalists who participated in the “Finding diverse sources for your story” panel at Health Journalism 2019. Besides, diversity is just good journalism. Continue reading

Spotlight Q&A with member David Wahlberg, Wisconsin State Journal

Catherine Wendlandt

About Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt is a graduate research assistant at AHCJ, pursuing a master's degree in journalism-magazine editing at the University of Missouri. She has a degree in journalism-magazine publishing in 2018 from MU and minored in Spanish and religious studies. As an undergrad, she worked at Vox Magazine and the Columbia Missourian.

David Wahlberg

Where are you from/how far did you travel?

So I sort of had to travel from Madison, Wis., although I was actually at a different seminar the first part of this week in D.C. so I kind of came from there.

How many AHCJ conferences have you been to?

I don’t know for sure, but I would say about 10. I think my first one was in 2002 or 2003. Continue reading

Spotlight Q & A with member Eric Rosenthal, independent journalist

Catherine Wendlandt

About Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt is a graduate research assistant at AHCJ, pursuing a master's degree in journalism-magazine editing at the University of Missouri. She has a degree in journalism-magazine publishing in 2018 from MU and minored in Spanish and religious studies. As an undergrad, she worked at Vox Magazine and the Columbia Missourian.

Eric Rosenthal, independent journalist

Where are you from and how far did you travel to the conference?

I’m from Wynnewood, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia. It was 2 hours and 15 minutes by car.

How many AHCJ conferences have you been to?

About a dozen.

What are you looking forward to at the conference?

Otis Brawley’s kickoff speech. He’s actually a very good friend of mine. So I’m looking forward to his presentation. At this stage, I come to AHCJ conferences primary to meet other people and to talk. Continue reading