Tag Archives: Tools

New tip sheet expands on HealthNewsReview.org criteria

The first AHCJ conference I ever attended was in 2011 in Philadelphia. I had only recently learned about the organization and knew very little about it. I’d signed up for a field trip, but I had brought my 8-month-old with me and was up late the night before, so overslept and missed it.

When I actually got to the conference (my aunt watched my son), I caught the second half of a Thursday workshop with Ivan Oransky, M.D., (now AHCJ’s president) and Gary Schwitzer of HealthNewsReview.org on how to understand and responsibly report on medical studies. It was the session I would eventually end up leading myself years later. Continue reading

Boning up on unfamiliar research areas can pay off with specialized knowledge, more assignments

Photo: bc the path via Flickr

In a recent social media post, a fellow journalist asked how others get up to speed on reporting about topics new to them, or even covering a new subtopic within an area they already cover. Here’s some of what was shared in that online discussion, and I encourage others to share their tips in the comments as well.

If it’s a quick piece with a tight turnaround and I find I’m out of my depth, I go back to the editor and say so. I’ve turned down assignments even after taking them if I realize I just don’t have the necessary foundational knowledge. Continue reading

What was that number again …? The solution to re-using stats in your writing

Photo: kerolic via Flickr

Like many reporters, I have developed several niches in my reporting within medical research. I most often write about pediatrics, women’s health, mental health, vaccines, public health (including gun violence) and, increasingly, health disparities or related social justice aspects of health and medicine.

Because I try to include links throughout my writing to back up the figures I use to provide context on a topic, I would frequently find myself looking up the same data again and again. For topics like vaccines, it usually wasn’t too difficult to find studies or statistics I had previously cited. They were generally easy to find on the CDC website, or I could remember a couple key articles I’d written where I linked to the majority of the figures I might want to link to again. Continue reading

Plan ahead to get answers at a medical conference

Photo: Matt Hintsa via Flickr

One challenge when covering medical conferences is that, depending on your publication’s needs, you often must conduct many interviews on the fly both with presenters and with attendees at the sessions.

Since many other people also are vying for the presenters’ attention, you might only be able to get in a few short questions after a session. Continue reading

Dive into a treasure trove of articles at The Open Notebook

Writing about health and medical studies is part of the larger genre of writing about science. Perhaps the best science journalism site/blog out there is The Open Notebook, chock full of advice, tips, guides and inspiration.

We’ve highlighted their work here before, and now they’ve gone above and beyond with a special section aimed at new science journalists — though there’s plenty of gold there for veterans as well. Continue reading