The World Health Organization today declared 2019-nCoV a public health emergency of international concern. This is the sixth such designation since 2009; earlier emergencies included the swine flu in 2009, Ebola in 2014 and 2019, polio in 2014 and Zika in 2016.
One of our older, incredibly helpful tip sheets at the Medical Studies Core Topic is Liz Szabo’s overview of how to use social media to find real people for articles. In that tip sheet, Szabo lays out a great overarching strategy on setting yourself up to find the sources you need for the topics you typically cover and how to monitor conversations not only for sources but also for story ideas.
That comprehensive approach, however, is aimed more at setting yourself up for a longer story or for a regular beat, and “starting early” is a key aspect of it. What if you’ve just been assigned a story and have less than a week to find patients or other “real people’s voices” — especially if it’s not an area you often cover? Continue reading
Tara Haelle, AHCJ core topic leader on medical studies, contributed to this post.
Journalists have a tricky role when covering a public health issue like vaccine hesitancy and opposition. We have a responsibility to report medical facts, but we also want to tell stories of these facts playing out in real life – and we must avoid appearing as advocates or taking a “stance” on whether parents should vaccinate their children or not.
The medical evidence is clear – vaccines are safe and effective – but a small minority of people refuse, or remain unable, to accept medical evidence. Since that small minority can have a substantial impact on public health more broadly, journalists have to capture the micro and the macro while balancing storytelling with facts. Continue reading
Why do some journalists have thousands of followers and others barely a handful? Is it better to tweet, ‘gram or Facebook? What about Snapchat? Should you have separate personal and professional accounts? What’s the best way to deal with trolls and negativity? Attendees at Health Journalism 2018 learned how to up their social media game from those who do it well — and how to avoid potential problems — at the “Freelance: Flex your social media muscle” session on April 14.
Now two years into her health coverage of the epidemic, Wolford was driven by a journalist’s instinct to find out what was happening in her community, from those using the drugs, police officers and government officials, to family members on all sides of the crisis.
“When I repeatedly heard daily overdose calls over the office scanner, I asked my boss if I could dive into the crisis,” she said. Continue reading