In late January, Kate Howard, managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, conducted one of the most important webinars for any journalist — green or seasoned — to watch: “Perfecting the 15-minute background check – for all sources.” How important is it? Well, she presents her tips every single year at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference, teaching attendees how to “background like a boss,” and the room is packed every time. Continue reading
The first person that a health reporter nearly always reaches out to when writing about a medical study is the study’s corresponding author. That person – often but not always the lead author as well – is the officially designated contact person for the research. Reporters may ultimately end up interviewing a different author, or several of them, but the corresponding author holds a lot of power as the formally designated first contact.
It’s probably no surprise that (at least when it comes to phase 3 cancer trials) that the lead author is a man four times out of five. Continue reading
It’s an easy trap to fall into: call the hospital public relations department and ask to speak with an authority about your topic. Chances are good you will end up interviewing an older, typically white, male doctor.
And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, if you’re only talking to one group of experts, you’re missing out on vital sources which can add rich, diverse perspectives to your stories, according to the journalists who participated in the “Finding diverse sources for your story” panel at Health Journalism 2019. Besides, diversity is just good journalism. Continue reading
Heather Boerner’s October 2018 piece at NPR examined the fate of people who live without treatment for their HIV after they leave prison. The piece was pinned to a study published in PLOS One showing that people with HIV often are lost to care once they leave the monitoring and services provided in prison.
In her article, in addition to providing an in-depth perspective from several experts, Boerner also gave the reader the story of Bryan C. Jones, who had left a prison in Ohio and almost immediately ditched his HIV drugs because he knew they were no longer working. Continue reading
Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way to get them right the next time – even when you already know better and shouldn’t have made that rookie mistake in the first place.
That’s what this post is about: My haste in covering a story I already know a lot about led me to omit a crucial piece of reporting – checking for potential conflicts of interest. I hope others will learn from my experience and use the resources I provide below to avoid the same mistake. Continue reading
The story about the fall of Theranos provides an important lesson for journalists about how we should be more diligent when reporting on the spin that companies use to promote themselves.
Last week, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of Theranos, and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who served in various roles for the clinical laboratory testing company in Palo Alto, Calif. In an indictment unsealed Friday, the federal Department of Justice announced in a news release that Holmes and Balwani were alleged to have perpetrated multimillion dollar schemes designed to defraud patients, doctors and investors. Note that the release includes a link to a PDF of the indictment itself. Continue reading