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AHCJ members talk H1N1, grade the media

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

AHCJ member Dr. Mona Khanna and AHCJ board member Maryn McKenna , along with New Hampshire state epidemiologist Dr. Jose Montero and host Laura Knoy discussed H1N1 and the media on New Hampshire Public Radio Wednesday. Debate centered on the media’s performance thus far, as well as the role that it ought to play during an outbreak or pandemic.

A few salient points from their key exchange:

Montero started things off by saying that health care journalists will be critical to public health efforts and will be relied upon to inform the public and provide context.



McKenna gave the media a “C” grade for their performance to date, with the explanation that, after round upon round of layoffs, there may not be enough expert journalists left to fulfill the public health role envisioned by Montero. “All the people who would be counted on to know this subject … most of those people don’t work in the media anymore,” McKenna said. “You can’t count on the media any more as the people who can put the breaks on alarmism.”

Khanna agreed, saying that even experienced health journalists sometimes lack key scientific understanding and should consult with scientists or medical professionals.