New data resource offers the lowdown in cancer terms, acronyms and concepts

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.

National Cancer Institute

Photo: National Cancer Institute

When I first began writing in health and science journalism, my biggest “micro-beat” was vaccines (and still is). I had spent more than a year in graduate school reading up on vaccines and interviewing dozens of folks in the field or tangential to it (such as parents and advocates) before I published any substantive articles about vaccines for a publication.

I was fortunate to be able to spend that time diving so deep into a single area, but it also gave me a deep appreciation for the areas I would not want to cover without being able to spend a similar amount of time studying up on them first. For years after I began working as a full-time journalist, that included anything in oncology. 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 can states keep nursing home residents safe during the pandemic? 

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.

Photo: Deborah Crowe

When we first learned of widespread incidence and deaths from COVID-19 in a Seattle-area nursing home, many in the aging and health care fields already knew what was ahead. Since early March, Missouri, California, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and nearly every other state have reported cases, More than 5,500 nursing home residents had died from coronavirus-related conditions as of April 15.

The real number undoubtedly is higher, since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services only recently announced new regulatory requirements to report cases of COVID-19 directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many deaths early in the pandemic likely were attributed to age-related complications from flu, pneumonia, or pre-existing heart and breathing problems. So how are states helping to protect their most vulnerable residents? 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

Reporter explores impact of medical credit cards on dental debt

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.

Manuela-Tobias

Manuela Tobias

Dental patients in need of costly procedures may turn to medical credit cards to pay for the services. But these cards, which often include deferred-interest provisions, can pose risks.

If consumers do not fully understand the terms or fall behind on payments, they can end up facing inflated bills and crippling dental debts, as Fresno Bee reporter Manuela Tobias explained in a recent investigative piece. Continue reading