Tag Archives: writing

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

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: 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

A good story about medical studies begins with a responsible headline

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: Sergio Santos via Flickr

Many journalists have little to do with the final headline that ends up on their story, while others — such as bloggers and regular contributors to certain publications — are almost exclusively responsible for their headlines.

But even in the first case, journalists may submit a working headline with their story and often have some sway over the final headline. Continue reading

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

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: 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

Cinematic techniques can add pop to stories, says Pulitzer winner at #AHCJ17

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.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJTake the standard five W’s and H and think more cinematically, Jacqui Banaszynski suggested. “Think stories, think literature, think fiction, think fairy tales.”

All great stories begin with great reporting. But how do you make your copy snap, crackle and pop? Use some of the same techniques found great television and movies, suggests Jacqui Banaszynski, who holds the Knight Chair in Editing at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Kicking off the morning sessions on the first day of Health Journalism 2017, Banaszynski, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her series, “AIDS in the Heartland,” kept a packed room of journalists engrossed during a nearly two-hour give-and-take on the elements of great narrative writing that engages your readers from beginning to end. Continue reading

Freelancers weigh in on what it takes to successfully write a book at #AHCJ17

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Len Bruzzese/AHCJFreelance journalists take notes during a panel that focused on writing books.

“Can you afford to write a book?”

This question keeps many journalists awake at night. It also served as the title for a compelling panel discussion at Health Journalism 2017.

The harsh and rewarding realities of taking on a book project – from the original moment of inspiration to the promotion of the final product – were explored by experts, including publishing industry veteran Amanda J. Moon. Continue reading

New tip sheet focuses on writing for an older audience

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.

Photo: Condoriano via Flickr

Photo: Condoriano via Flickr

Most journalists do a great job of writing for their audience. But it can be easy to forget that part of your audience may include older adults who often struggle with issues of health literacy, cognitive impairment or language problems.

As Medicare Open Enrollment season gets underway, this is a good time to consider story structure and how the information seniors may rely on is framed. While most of these tips probably are more applicable to journalists at consumer media, writers for more specialized journals and outlets can also benefit. Continue reading