AHCJ beat-reporting award winner and freelancer targets military health care

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: The National Guard via Flickr

Health care issues in the military are becoming increasingly important to uncover, especially as the nation watches the response to the pandemic. At the same time, reporters may find it challenging to dig into this niche and understand what to cover.

Freelance journalists, in particular, may face difficulties in approaching sources and obtaining documents. Experienced health care reporter Patricia Kime has focused on these issues during her career, and continues to tackle them as a self-employed writer. Continue reading

In the midst of a pandemic, employers begin to negotiate insurance coverage for next year

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 joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Rachel via Flickr

Every year, all employers negotiate with health insurers over what they’ll pay in insurance premiums for the coming year. And many employers also negotiate with hospitals, health systems and physician groups over what they’ll pay in direct-contracting arrangements that bypass traditional insurance contracts.

In both negotiations, the employers will be seeking better care and lower costs, as they do each year. Continue reading

Panel highlights lack of data, obesity as among under-covered pandemic stories

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.

webcastKentucky, Nebraska, Nevada and North Dakota are the only four states in the U.S. that (as of May 13) have provided zero disaggregated data on the racial and ethnic impact of COVID-19 on its residents, even as there is a growing body of evidence nationwide demonstrating the pandemic is having a disproportionate effect on communities of color.

This lack of transparency in key parts of the country is among several under-covered stories for reporters to pursue in their communities, according to panelists who offered advice on covering disparities and COVID-19 at an AHCJ webcast on May 13. Continue reading

How a silly Facebook riddle can help you think more critically about medical studies

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.

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Photo: samuelrodgers752 via Flickr

At a certain point, you think you’ve seen all of those maddening, intentionally misleading Facebook math riddles. The first one I recall led to an unfriending on Facebook — and my first article for Slate. It discussed the history of “order of operations” and the ambiguities of math “language” (and amusingly led to just as much debate in the comments as on Facebook). Continue reading

RSS service streamlines access to COVID-19 preprints

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.

It can be hard enough to keep up with the peer-reviewed research flooding out of journals related to COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus. Monitoring the possibly larger flood of preprints — scientific papers made available before publication in a peer-reviewed journal — is even tougher, especially since they aren’t indexed in PubMed. Continue reading

Sources, studies and self-care: AHCJ freelancers give advice on COVID-19 coverage

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.

reporter-taking-notesAs many health care journalists have reported that they’re covering “all COVID, all the time” during the past two months, AHCJ freelancers offered their advice about the best ways to approach reporting and writing, as well as their own mental health while working on assignments.

Overall, the advice highlights many of the principles that reporters already hold dear — choose your sources carefully, review the science behind published studies, and find ways to carve out personal time from a 24/7 news cycle.

Related to news coverage at this moment, the freelancers also suggested doing background research with new webcasts and press briefings online, finding story ideas in new communications and newsletters created by trusted sources, and creating a routine to stay on top of the most recent research.

Continue reading