The standards of health reporting in the United States are higher than ever before, according to AHCJ Vice President Karl Stark.
Stark, the health and science editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, is in England for “Health in the Headlines,” a European conference on health journalism co-sponsored by AHCJ and Coventry University.
While there, he was a guest on “FT Science with Clive Cookson,” a Financial Times podcast.
Stark said this is a time of great opportunity and great foment in U.S. health journalism. When asked about covering pharmaceutical companies, Stark acknowledged that is a challenge and requires training to penetrate and learn the language.
Stark used an analogy about sports preferences in the United States (high scoring) and Europe (low scoring) to explain the differences in how people in the two places view health care.
It’s worth listening to Stark’s segment; it’s about six and half minutes long at the beginning of the podcast.
Health-related investigations (including one by an AHCJ member) snagged both top spots in the Barlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism this year. The awards, funded by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, judge stories based on “investigative enterprise, strong business theme, writing style, clarity and impact.”
Reuters’ Murray Waas took the top spot, called the Gold Award, for “Diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Dropped by Insurer (PDF),” a four-month investigation of WellPoint’s rescission algorithm. He’ll get $5,000.
The Silver Award, meanwhile, went to AHCJ member John Fauber, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for “Side Effects: Money, Medicine and Patients,” the long-running conflict of interest investigation we’ve covered extensively on this blog.
There was no Bronze Award, but another health story — “Inside the Health-Care Crucible: Reports from a Hospital in a Time of Upheaval,” by the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Michael Vitez — did earn an honorable mention. We’ve mentioned Vitez’ dispatches before, he’s the reporter who spent months “embedded” in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital.
The AHCJ board of directors elected a new set of officers to take their seats at the upcoming fall board meeting.
Charles Ornstein of ProPublica was selected as president, Karl Stark of The Philadelphia Inquirer was named vice president, Ivan Oransky of Reuters Health was named treasurer and Julie Appleby of Kasier Health News was named secretary. Trudy Lieberman, board president for the past five years, assumes the new role of immediate past president.
A new board was seated after July elections by the entire AHCJ membership. The board members then voted on officers.
Other members of the board of directors are Felice J. Freyer of The Providence Journal; Phil Galewitz of Kaiser Health News; Andrew Holtz, a Portland, Ore., independent journalist; Carla K. Johnson of The Associated Press; Maryn McKenna, an independent journalist and author; Mike Stobbe of The Associated Press; and Irene Wielawski, an independent journalist from Pound Ridge, N.Y.
The Association of Health Care Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues. Its mission is to improve the quality, accuracy and visibility of health care reporting, writing and editing. AHCJ is housed at the Missouri School of Journalism.