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Tip Sheets

The many dimensions of the avian flu story

Reporters from the United States, China and Germany discuss how a story about a health issue such as avian flu can be covered competitively, with its web of connections that make it an economic, political, scientific and global news story.

This is a part of edited excerpts from a lengthy transcript from "The Next Big (Health) Crisis - And How to Cover It," a conference cosponsored by AHCJ at the Nieman Foundation.

Speakers on this topic included:

  • Maryn McKenna, former senior medical reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, now a Kaiser Media Fellow and freelance journalist. She spoke about stretching beyond your beat knowledge.
  • Alan Sipress, staff writer for The Washington Post, formerly based in the Jakarta bureau of the Post. He spoke about being a Westerner in Asia: How to get beyond the obvious - about understanding cultural traditions and the politics of governments in the region.
  • Lu Yi, senior reporter, Sanlian Life Weekly, now a Knight Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lu Yi spoke about "Insights from Beijing: Reporting SARS and avian flu for China's largest newsweekly."
  • Harro Albrecht, medical editor, Die Zeit in Germany and 2007 Nieman Fellow. Albrecht spoke about "The Euro perspective: Once infected birds hit Germany, the story was never the same again."
  • Helen Branswell, medical reporter for Canadian Press (CP), Canada's domestic news agency. She spoke about covering an international story by working the phone. She offers tips on sources you should keep in mind.
  • John Pope, medical writer at The Times Picayune in New Orleans, spoke about what Hurricane Katrina can teach us about covering a pandemic.