Tag Archives: sources

New tip sheet helps you ‘background like a boss’

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Karina Smigla-Bobinski via Flickr

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

Inequality in corresponding authors means reporters need to balance the scales

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

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

Diversifying your sources can improve your reporting

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.

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

Advice from a reporter experienced in interviewing people in stigmatized populations

Emily Willingham

About Emily Willingham

Emily Willingham (@ejwillingham) is AHCJ's core topic leader on the social determinants of health. She is a science journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and Forbes, among others, and co-author of "The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Guide to Your Child's First Four Years."

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

Checking conflicts of interest: If cutting corners, at least do it right

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Hey Paul Studios via Flickr

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

Indictment of Theranos executives offers lessons for journalists

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: Len Bruzzese/AHCJWall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou spoke about his award-winning investigation of Theranos at Health Journalism 2018.

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