Freelancers, this is the time to diversify our sources

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

Three women sitting together and discussing work

Photo: Fadi Dahabreh on Scopio

After a wave of online conversations unveiled issues with inclusion at some of the nation’s top publications and media companies, freelancers can step up now by thinking more critically about the sources they interview for their stories. Several groups have created databases in recent years to encourage reporters to extend their limited perspectives and typical networks, and now seems like a good time for a reminder and a nudge.

“Inclusive reporting” beefs up your stories with a variety of viewpoints that come from a different race, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle or culture than your own. Plus, a diversity of sources adds credibility, accuracy and context to your work. Continue reading

Time to track how the pandemic is hurting health care provider finances

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at

Source: How health costs might change with COVID-19, Peterson KFF Health System Tracker, April 15, 2020.Elective procedures and routine (non-emergency) care represent 52% of what large employers pay for hospital care, according to the Peterson KFF Health System Tracker.

While the death of more than 120,000 Americans related to the novel coronavirus is the most important story, the economic impact of the pandemic on hospitals and physicians is another significant story to cover.

Not only are providers paying higher prices for equipment and supplies, but they also lost income when stay-at-home orders put a hold on elective surgeries and nonessential physician visits.

Mark Taylor recently wrote about the devastating financial effects the virus has had on hospitals in an article for MarketWatch, noting that, “The coronavirus is devastating U.S. hospitals, which will lose $200 billion in revenue by the end of June.” Continue reading

Professor helps journalists report on assessing COVID-19 transmission risks

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: New York National Guard via Flickr

Scientists now have a much better idea of how people become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

But public health guidelines for how to prevent spread have been confusing. There have been mixed messages provided by federal, state and local government leaders, which has left many people hungry for information about how to assess their risks, as businesses reopen and summer vacation plans are looming.

To help fill the information gap, Dr. Erin Bromage, a University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth associate biology professor who has spent much of his career utilizing infection control measures in his animal research work, created a blog called “COVID-19 Musings.” Continue reading

Pandemic changes, or pauses, state approaches to health coverage

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at Follow her on Facebook.

Photo: Yuri Samoilov via Flickr

Before the new coronavirus pandemic, expanding health insurance was a hot topic in the presidential campaign. States were considering a wide range of health coverage policies, including Medicaid expansion, Medicaid block grants, public options, new subsidies and coverage of immigrants.

Much of the state policymaking has been on hold or is phasing in more slowly as the nation’s health system focuses on COVID-19. States are facing enormous financial stresses due both to the pandemic and the subseqent economic crisis. Continue reading

Welcome to AHCJ’s newest members

Len Bruzzese

About Len Bruzzese

Len Bruzzese is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He also is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and served for nearly 20 years in daily journalism.

welcome-matPlease welcome these new professional and student members to AHCJ.

All new members are welcome to stop by this post’s comment section to introduce themselves. Continue reading

Protect readers’ time and bandwidth from unpublished trials

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: Thomas Leuthard via Flickr

Every week for years, I’ve received press releases about studies starting up. This one looking at heart disease, that one about a common cancer, and still another on a rare childhood disease. I’ve written about precisely zero of them. When the public relations person follows up, I’ll explain: “I write primarily about peer-reviewed research. Let me know when it’s published.”

If you write for business, pharma or medical trade publications, there may be times when you write about the initiation of a study. Even then, it’s typically more important to wait until the study is actually underway and there’s something to say about it. And for consumer publications, I can’t think of any reason to talk about an upcoming individual study that hasn’t begun. Continue reading