Tag Archives: social media

Tip sheet helps journalists cover vaccine hesitancy responsibly

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.

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

Freelancers learn to maximize social media skills

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.

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.

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Strong social media presence helps Md. reporter cover her community’s opioid crisis

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: nadja robot via Flickr

For Heather Wolford, a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News, covering the growing opioid crisis in the rural hills of Western Maryland was, quite literally, a calling.

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

What AHCJ’s conferences, social media and a dog’s blog have to do with building a freelance business

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: Joseph BurnsRoscoe

Photo: Joseph BurnsRoscoe, the key to a recent freelance assignment.

My dog helped me land a freelance assignment recently. Actually, my dog’s blogs (he has two) helped me get the gig. To be honest, my 5-year-old Labrador retriever, Roscoe, wouldn’t even have a blog if it weren’t for what I’ve learned at AHCJ’s Health Journalism conferences the past three years.

So, if you’re wondering if attending Health Journalism 2015 in California later this month will be worth your time and effort, read on.

After attending AHCJ’s Health Journalism 2012 conference in Atlanta, I landed enough assignments to cover my costs for that conference and every one since. I did the math for this blog post.

Recently, I discovered that what I learned in Atlanta (and in Boston in 2013 and in Denver in 2014) continues to pay dividends. Continue reading

Using Twitter, LinkedIn to diversify your sources #ahcj13

Shuka Kalantari

About Shuka Kalantari

Shuka Kalantari is a health outreach coordinator at KQED-San Francisco. She is attending Health Journalism 2013 on an AHCJ-California Health Journalism Fellowship, which is supported by The California HealthCare Foundation.

At KQED Public Radio’s The California Report in San Francisco, part of my job is to connect with communities across California and find diverse voices talking about community health issues for our airwaves. While on-the-ground outreach is the ideal way to build relationships with sources, it’s impossible for one person to embed herself in all of California’s 58 counties. 

That’s where social media comes in. Tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and social media networks has helped me find a wide range of voices, as well as follow conversations in my health beat. At Health Journalism 2013, I did a presentation with Dori J. Maynard, the President of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education in Oakland, Calif., (follow her at @TeamMije and @djmaynard) on how to navigate Twitter and LinkedIn to find sources. We started with Twitter.

Reporters should follow individuals and organizations that serve diverse populations (need some Twitter 101? Check AHCJ’s tip sheets here and here, Twitter’s Help Center, Mediabistro, and Mashabable’s video tutorial). Follow ethnic media in your coverage area. Also, think outside traditional “health” box. Don’t just follow health organizations and media – think about arts groups, youth groups or theater groups in the regions you are covering. For example, I follow Cornerstone Theater Company, a community theater group in downtown Los Angeles. The staff has since connected me with various community members who have been affected by community health issues on everything from trying to get access to health care as a homeless person in Skid Row, to preventing gun violence in South LA.

But if you’re following hundreds (or even thousands) of people on Twitter, it can be hard to keep up  with the conversations. That’s where creating Twitter “streams” can be useful.  Continue reading

Getting a handle on social media #ahcj13

Cindy Uken

About Cindy Uken

Cindy Uken is a health care reporter at the Billings (Mont.) Gazette. She is attending Health Journalism 2013 on an AHCJ-Rural Health Journalism Fellowship, which is supported by the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Photo by Pia Christensen

Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms can be useful — or time-killers.

Social media should be both interesting and useful or helpful.

These are the messages two social media producers delivered to journalists on Thursday at Health Journalism 2013, AHCJ’s 15th annual conference.

“Sometimes when people get started, it’s one or other,” said Adrienne Lavidor-Berman, social media producer for Boston.com and BostonGlobe.com.

Lavidor-Berman and Elizabeth Comeau, health and wellness producer for BostonGlobe.com, spent an hour with journalists helping them find ways to make Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms helpful and not simply a drain.

Some key takeaways:

  • Treat Twitter as its own beat.
  • Take time to follow the right people and respond to them.
  • If tweeting someone’s article, mention them by name in the Tweet to help them build a following.
  • Market your content to the people you know will find it most useful.
  • Twitter is very journalist friendly.
  • If you can’t find someone’s Twitter profile, search for them through Google.
  • Think before you tweet.
  • Follow AP, Reuters and the reporters who work for those organizations.

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