Photo by the University of Nottingham via Flickr.
Throughout my reporting of the pandemic, I’ve made an explicit effort to interview many more women than men, especially women of color. I’ve done that because the popular perception of a “doctor” remains a white male, and I believe that one way I can contribute to changing that mindset is to be more inclusive about who I show doing a job.
That’s why a new research letter in JAMA Surgery on representation in medical school faculty caught my eye. In short, it found low diversity overall among surgery faculty and residents and revealed that having more underrepresented minorities among the faculty was correlated with more students from those groups. Neither of those findings is necessarily surprising, but they have two major implications for journalists reporting on a study that requires an expert source in surgery:
- Reporters likely need to work a little harder to find more diverse sources when reporting on surgery research since senior faculty in that field isn’t particularly diverse.
- You must find diverse sources because representation matters. If more faculty from underrepresented groups correlated with more students from those groups, it’s possible that including more diverse sources in your stories will make a difference in who reads your stories and what your readers take away from them. It will also allow you to present perspectives you might not have gotten if you had relied on too many sources who look alike.
Study methodology and key findings
Researchers used data from the American Association of Medical Colleges to assess the race, ethnicity, and sex of medical students and full-time surgical faculty members. (Note: Although the study states that it assessed the sex of faculty members, it seems more likely they were assessing gender, a common conflation that occurs in research.) One interesting aspect of this study is that investigators look specifically at “underrepresented” groups as opposed to “minority” groups. The difference is significant given that certain minority groups are overrepresented in medical subspecialties.
As someone who was used to covering multiple medical conferences in person each year, 2020 was a big shift. I had to adapt to covering conferences virtually.
On the one hand, it was great: I got to sit in my home, eat my own (far less expensive) food, and watch many of the presentations on my own time instead of racing from one end of a convention center to another. Continue reading
News organizations continue to grapple with ways to include in their stories more COVID-19 experts from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.
Last year, AHCJ highlighted groups that have created databases in recent years to encourage reporters to extend their perspectives and typical networks. For specific COVID-19 experts, here are a few more places to look. Continue reading
After a wave of online conversations unveiled issues with inclusion at some of the nation’s top publications and media companies, freelancers can step up now by thinking more critically about the sources they interview for their stories. Several groups have created databases in recent years to encourage reporters to extend their limited perspectives and typical networks, and now seems like a good time for a reminder and a nudge.
“Inclusive reporting” beefs up your stories with a variety of viewpoints that come from a different race, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle or culture than your own. Plus, a diversity of sources adds credibility, accuracy and context to your work. Continue reading
Photo: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf via FlickrMicrobiologist Kerry Pollard performs a manual extraction of the coronavirus at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories.
Getting accurate data and information from local and state public officials is central to all journalists covering the COVID-19 pandemic, but what can reporters do when it’s hard to get local public health departments even to answer the phone or emails?
Local, state and federal budget constraints, over the past decade, have meant a loss of 56,000 jobs in the public health sector, including many public information officer and other communications positions. When the pandemic emerged in March, public health departments had few people with science backgrounds to communicate with the public. Continue reading