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Rural Health Journalism Workshop 2017: Program

Click the titles of sessions having red arrows to read their descriptions.

Friday, June 9

7 a.m.

Registration/check-in desk opens


7:30-8:15 a.m.

Breakfast available

Grand Ballroom B

8:40-8:50 a.m.


  • Len Bruzzese, executive director, Association of Health Care Journalists

Grand Ballroom B

8:50-9:50 a.m.

Finding rural health stories: What reporters need to know

What do you need to know about rural residents and their health environment? Each American rural community has its own identity and makeup. They can rely on farms, or factories, be retirement areas or "exurbs" for commuters, each with its own distinctive personality. There is, however, some common ground: Rural Americans face special challenges in getting health care, and in many areas those challenges keep them from being as healthy as their urban and suburban counterparts. You’ll hear from veteran journalists about resources and ideas on how to report on rural populations and places.
  • Trudy Lieberman, contributing editor, Columbia Journalism Review

  • Laura Ungar, investigative and enterprise reporter, Courier-Journal/USA Today

  • Moderator: Al Cross, director, Institute for Rural Journalism & Community Issues

Grand Ballroom B

10-11 a.m.

How the battle over health reform is impacting rural residents

The back-and-forth news about a new administration’s efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is driving new debates about the direction of health care. What will all this mean for rural Americans? This panel will guide you through the rural implications of these issues and help you inform your own audiences.
  • Timothy McBride, Ph.D., co-director, Center for Health Economics and Policy, Institute for Public Health, Washington University

  • Alan Morgan, chief executive officer, National Rural Health Association

  • Moderator: Bram Sable-Smith, health & wealth Reporter, KBIA-Columbia, Mo.

Grand Ballroom B

11:10 a.m. -12:10 p.m.

The geographic divide: Reporting on disparities

Many rural Americans see higher rates of chronic illness and poor overall health compared to urban populations. The risk factors for these health disparities include geographic isolation, lower socio-economic status, health risk behaviors, even limited job opportunities. Take a closer look at what these health disparities mean and how to educate your audience.
  • Brady Reynolds, Ph.D., associate professor of behavioral sciences, University of Kentucky; deputy director, Rural and Underserved Health Research Center

  • Jan Probst, Ph.D., director, South Carolina Rural Health Research Center

  • Moderator: Christine Herman, multimedia producer, Illinois Public Media

Grand Ballroom B

12:15-2 p.m.


Digging into health data: Vital factors in rural America

Julie Willems Van Dijk

Julie Willems Van Dijk, the director of County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, will talk about the annual measure of vital health factors revealing a snapshot of how health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play. The rankings measure vital health factors, including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, unemployment, access to healthy foods, the quality of air and water, income inequality, and teen births.
  • Julie Willems Van Dijk, R.N., Ph.D., F.A.A.N., director, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps


2:10-3:10 p.m.

Covering the opioid epidemic beyond cities

The opioid epidemic – prescription or illegal – is rampant across the United States with a special impact in rural areas. Those places are especially hard hit, with increasing overdose death rates and strained health resources. A journalist who has covered this widespread problem in depth and a state official whose mission is addressing substance abuse efforts will share how journalists can effectively report about it.
  • Eric Eyre, staff writer, Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette-Mail

  • Van Ingram, executive director, Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy

  • Moderator: Tracy Townsend, news anchor/medical correspondent, WBNS-Columbus, Ohio

Grand Ballroom B

3:20-4:20 p.m.

Challenges of keeping a rural health workforce

With rural America aging, health care needs are growing. But the health care workforce is lagging – far behind large metropolitan areas. The shortage is an ongoing story in rural America. Explore with this panel the challenges of recruiting and retaining health care professionals. What are the real fixes? The speakers will explore some answers.
  • Timothy L. Putnam, D.H.A., M.B.A., president and chief executive officer, Margaret Mary Health

  • Brent Wright, M.D., associate dean for rural health innovation, University of Louisville School of Medicine

  • Moderator: Melissa Patrick, health journalist, Kentucky Health News

Grand Ballroom B