AHCJ member Sabrina Rubin Erdely won a 2010 Clarion Award [press release] from the Association for Women in Communications for her piece in Self magazine about bone marrow donation. The award also cites AHCJ member Sara Austin, who is the magazines features director, news and health.
The story, of a bone marrow donor meeting the young woman whose life she helped save, is an arresting one, but the piece’s real strength is its focus on the mechanics of such donations. From the unlikely match to the surprisingly non-invasive extraction, Erdely uses the women’s story to demystify an otherwise intimidating process.
The piece is filled with moments like this, which cause less informed readers (like myself), to read the paragraph again just to make sure we’re understanding it right.
Say the words bone marrow transplant to anyone and the first reaction is probably a wince. “People imagine drilling through bone and pain and a long recovery,” says Katharina Harf, executive vice president and cofounder of the donor-recruitment organization DKMS Americas in New York City. In fact, nearly three quarters of so-called bone marrow donations involve no removal whatsoever of bone marrow—they’re done by extracting blood stem cells intravenously from the arm, like giving plasma. (Some doctors now prefer the term “stem cell transplant,” because both marrow and blood house these vital cells.)
Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.
Weller specifically cites health as being an issue that has gotten cutting-edge coverage in women’s magazines, pointing to Self magazine’s coverage of breast cancer, obesity and “the impact of Bush’s funding cuts to international health clinics that supported abortion.”
Weller also mentions articles in Glamour, including a piece about addiction to Paxil; one that looked at how local, state and federal policies were affecting women’s health care; how the military first accepted Plan B and then withdrew it; and contraceptive equity in insurance coverage.
In the Fall 2007 issue of HealthBeat, Traci Angel wrote about an analysis of how 44 stories were framed in 10 women’s magazines. The researcher, Barbara Barnett of the University of Kansas, found that articles can provide valuable information overlooked by the mainstream press. But, she said, the coverage women receive from them often focus on superficial topics and reinforce women stereotypes as caregivers, she says. As far as health coverage in such magazines, “She concluded that health stories in these publications motivated women to keep well so they could tend to their families.”
What do you think? Are so-called “women’s magazines” a good source of information about health?