Board Elections 2013: Candidates' statements
Six of the 12 director positions come up for election each year for two-year terms. Incumbent board members are allowed to run for re-election.
AHCJ members in the professional category will receive an email with a link allowing them to vote online the week of July 15. Polls close on Friday, July 19, at noon central time.
Below are the AHCJ professional members who have declared their board candidacy, listed in alphabetical order.
I grew up in a small farming community on the West Coast. This means I can milk a cow and drive a tractor, skills that are certainly enviable in some circles. However, I was at a disadvantage in that I was never introduced to health or science journalism. It wasn't until much later that I stumbled upon my current profession.
We are in a unique position as AHCJ members. We have an opportunity and an obligation to educate the next generation, to reach out to those who — like me — didn't have enough exposure to the field. After moving to New York City for an editorial position at Everyday Health, I taught high school classes about reporting and health/science journalism. I got a great response from the kids, who thanked me for opening up a world of possibilities.
I am running for the board because I want to develop three outreach programs targeted at students and young reporters. Such efforts are important because A) we should support and encourage potential new journalists and B) we need to cultivate a thoughtful, media-savvy audience. If elected as a board member of AHCJ, I will focus on the following projects:
Education: AHCJ will create a curriculum tailored toward high school students that teachers can download for free off our website. The curriculum will address the basics of journalism, how to be an informed media consumer and how students can participate within the industry. Once this is underway, AHCJ will reach out to SPJ, SEJ and NASW. Partnerships with these organizations have the potential to significantly broaden the program's scope.
Reporting Tools: AHCJ should partner with journalistic organizations like the Online News Association and Hacks/Hackers. These groups are known for their data management, data mining and data visualization skills. By working together, we can set up low-cost or free classes for reporters who want to expand their knowledge base.
Professional Development: Health reporting is a challenging beat, and for journalists new to the field, the prospect of taking on big pharma or tackling the nuances of the ACA can be daunting. AHCJ will hold monthly webinars/Google hangouts with healthcare industry experts who will discuss current issues, take questions and offer advice. These talks will be recorded and uploaded to the site as a lecture series, available to reporters for reference.
Check out my Twitter feed @mbloudoff, and contact me at mbloudoff[at]everydayhealthinc[dot]com. Thank you for your consideration.
The Providence Journal
I am running for my third term on the AHCJ board because there’s still so much to do. Our organization offers educational and advocacy resources that many journalists could not otherwise access, especially as many work independently or at threadbare news outlets. I want to keep AHCJ strong, growing and ever more helpful.
My efforts have focused on advocacy, fighting for access to information as chair (and now co-chair) of the Right to Know Committee. Thanks to the committee’s efforts, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services put a stop to “stakeholder” meetings that were open to the public but closed to the media, and several private medical organizations eased their restrictions on recording and photography at meetings. We’ve also called for the release of information about disciplined doctors, access to Joint Commission inspection reports and, most recently, data about how billions of dollars are spent in the food stamps program. These battles have drawn attention to the hazards of secrecy and raised AHCJ’s profile nationally.
I’ve worked to forge relationships with other journalism groups – six joined us on the food stamps issue. And I’ve been especially happy that AHCJ members are increasingly aware of Right to Know and turn to us for assistance. A goal for my next term will be to build on that awareness, reaching out to members to learn directly what people need and how AHCJ can help.
I’ve been covering medicine and health care at The Providence Journal since 1989. I feel lucky to have this great beat, especially in Rhode Island (often called “a theme park for journalists”), where just about every issue in health care is relevant, from medical research to hospital mergers to Obamacare. I’ve won a number of awards and fellowships, but these days I mostly get a kick out of being the one who can explain the health care system to ordinary people trying to find their way through it.
Health and science editor
The Boston Globe
Serving on the AHCJ board the last two years has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my journalism career. It has allowed me to work with dedicated colleagues across the country to ensure health journalists are prepared to cover complex stories at a time when what we do has never been more important. The public counts on us to give them accurate and in-depth information about the rapidly changing health care landscape, from the Affordable Care Act to the latest research on Alzheimer's disease.
As chair of the local organizing committee for this year's conference in Boston, I worked with AHCJ staff and other volunteers to develop the program and identify and invite speakers, helping us draw a record crowd. I also organized our first Boston chapter, to give members the chance to meet newsmakers off deadline and connect with each other. My other main focus has been the membership committee. I helped rewrite our membership guidelines to encompass new forms of health journalism while ensuring members remain independent and have no industry ties. And I recruited and retained members.
In my spare time, I am health and science editor of the Boston Globe, where my staff has won one Pulitzer Prize and twice been named finalists, most recently for our coverage of the fatal fungal meningitis outbreak last year that was traced to a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy. Previously, I was a health reporter and an editor at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, KY. I am also the proud father of a rising sophomore at Syracuse University's Newhouse School.
I have no specific agenda for a second term, but if you re-elect me, I promise to listen to the membership and work just as hard on your behalf and to improve health journalism.
The Associated Press, Chicago
I’ve covered health and medicine since 2001 and have been an AHCJ member nearly that long. I worked many years at the daily newspaper in Spokane, Wash., before returning to my native Illinois to join The Associated Press.
With the Affordable Care Act's full realization in sight, our readers and viewers have never needed quality journalism on health care more. To me, that's what our AHCJ mission ultimately is all about: "to improve the quality, accuracy and visibility of health care reporting, writing and editing." That's a solemn mission, but we have fun fulfilling it.
As our industry changes, it's important to nurture our spirits through camaraderie, networking and friendships, and so it's a real pleasure for me to serve as the board's liaison for local chapters. We now have active chapters in eight U.S. cities, where members get together to hear speakers, commiserate (sometimes), learn from one another and share information. My job is to encourage, boost and support the hard-working volunteers who coordinate our chapters.
Finally, I fully support our fundraising and investment policies, which have strict protections against inappropriate influence. Protecting our independence as an organization remains important to me and I think we've found a sustainable model. I've been on the board since 2003 and have helped us remain vital and relevant to our growing membership.
Freelance journalist and author
I would like to serve on the Association of Health Care Journalists Board of Directors because I bring a host of skills that would be invaluable to this organization. As a freelance journalist for over 20 years, I have had to continue to morph and understand the changes in our industry. I would like to be a part of the leadership conversation as we move forward. I look forward to working on strategies to continue to educate and inform our members, as health care changes and as the segment of health care journalism expands. I am also interested in helping to expand the diversity of the organization and the content that is brought to our membership. I am willing to roll up my sleeves to help bring content, resources and energy to AHCJ and the membership, if elected.
I am a full time freelance journalist who writes about health, health policy, family, relationships and food. My work, including essays, appear in O the Oprah Magazine, Essence, Real Simple, More, Ladies Home Journal, AARP, Heart and Soul, The Washington Post, Black Enterprise, Hallmark, Country Living, The New York Times, USA Today Weekend, Neurology Now, Heart Insights, NMA Magazine, Diabetes Forecast, Town and Country, and others.
My health reporting has appeared on websites such as Theroot.com (Washington Post), Next Avenue, Black Enterprise.com, More.com, Huffington Post, Civil Eats, Women’s E News, and Black AIDS Institute Newsletter, and Healthymagination.
I am also the author of “Still With Me… A Daughter’s Journey of Love and Loss,” a memoir on my mother’s valiant battle against ovarian cancer, published by Simon and Schuster in 2003. I also am the lead author of the “Black Woman’s Guide to Black Men’s Health” from Warner Wellness in 2007.
In addition, I’ve been a W.K. Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow, a National Cancer Institute Fellow and a Case Foundation Cancer Fellow. I am an active member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, past board member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of Black Journalists. I hold a BA in Journalism and Political Science from Indiana University.
Independent journalist, blogger and author
I have been a member of the AHCJ board for four years and am seeking one additional term to complete the projects I have launched. Since my board service began in 2009, I have been head of the AHCJ's Freelance Committee. Under my supervision — though largely thanks to extraordinary work by AHCJ volunteers — the committee has expanded AHCJ’s Freelance PitchFest, bringing record numbers of editors to our annual conference. At the conference, we have also created the Freelancers' Breakfast and secured a minimum of four freelancer-focused sessions every year. Just before the 2013 conference, we began to expand our non-conference offerings by hosting a webinar on pitching advice featuring top editors. My goal for the next two years is to expand our non-conference offerings, including creating a slate of webinars and redesigning and deepening the offerings on the freelancers' page on the AHCJ's website.
I am an independent journalist specializing in public health, global health and food policy. I am a blogger for Wired magazine and a columnist and contributing editor for Scientific American, and writes for Nature, Slate, the Guardian, the Atlantic, and other publications in the United States, Europe and Asia. I am the author of the award-winning books SUPERBUG, about the global rise of antibiotic resistance, and Beating Back the Devil, about the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and am currently working on a book about food production. I am currently a senior fellow of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University.
During the past four years, I have been honored to serve as president of the AHCJ board of directors. My term will soon end but, with your support, I would like to remain an active member of the board. The ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act is one of the most important stories of our time, and our job as health care journalists is crucial if the public is going to understand how it’s working. If you re-elect me, I pledge to continue working to make health data (and training on how to use it) more widely available. I will continue to be a vigorous champion for government transparency and push back against attempts to stymie our access to information. I will continue working with fellow board members to add useful resources for members as we have done in recent years. I am proud of our continued growth in membership and our financial stability—and I am particularly proud that the board keeps increasing the number of fellowship opportunities and stipends for members. AHCJ has been one of the most-fulfilling volunteer experiences of my life. I hope you will allow me to continue giving back.
A little background on me: I am a senior reporter at ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization in New York. Before that, I was a reporter at the Los Angeles Times and Dallas Morning News. I am an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where I edited the student newspaper and majored in history and psychology. My work has included stories on a troubled hospital in South Los Angeles (which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service), California’s failure to oversee registered nurses (which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), lapses at organ transplant centers, and pharmaceutical company payments to doctors. My current project is examining physician prescribing patterns using data that has never been public before. I have two amazing kids and a third on the way.
Assistant managing editor, health and science
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The core purpose of anyone on the AHCJ board or staff is to serve members. My goal as the board vice president has been to listen and brainstorm and find ways to make that happen. We all know how complicated health care is, and how helpful AHCJ can be.
We already have core topic bloggers on health reform, aging, oral health and medical studies, but we need more. We have an impressive collection of medical journals available free to members, but we need to add to them. We offer data sets for stories and local chapters for networking; we have a vigorous list serve, a prestigious contest, an evolving web site, a dynamic national conference, and a growing membership in Canada and Europe. Yet we still can do more. We have to listen to what our members need and provide it in a form that is most effective. The payoff is better journalism.
As an editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, I get to direct our health coverage, working with staff reporters and freelancers to produce a new, eight-page health section every Sunday. AHCJ helps me stay current and learn new tricks. But we have a ton of unmet needs too. As a returning board officer, I hope to continue encouraging AHCJ to prosper and evolve.