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TOPICS IN HEALTH: The backstory on key health issues from noted journalists and experts.
Orange County isn't the first place you'd expect to find child malnutrition.
The O.C. has a reputation as a luxury playground, making the county's food insecurity stats all the more surprising. Such juxtapositions between a locale's perception and reality can make for powerful stories that grab audiences and jumpstart conversations.
Approaching Fallon, Nevada
A reporting trip that set out to investigate the causes behind a mysterious childhood cancer cluster turned into a valuable lesson in embracing a truer kind of complexity — not the twists and turns of a mystery novel’s plot, but the unpredictable emotions that guide real people’s lives.
Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred
When I tackled the topic of loneliness as a 2013 National Health Journalism Fellowship project, I honestly didn't think it would be hard to find people who were lonely so that I could write about the issue. I was right and wrong.
By 2012, when I started my fellowship project, several journalists -- in Philadelphia and nationally -- had written extensively about the “built environment,” food deserts and healthy food access. For my project, I looked to answer the question: “What else in a neighborhood matters to health?”
The U.S. locks up more individuals per capita than any other country in the world. We have 2.2 million people behind bars – up 500% from 30 years ago. This situation raises important questions for policy makers, and it’s a rich area for journalistic exploration.
We already knew about air pollution's link to asthma, heart disease, lung cancer, and shorter lives. But few of us have given much thought to its effect on the brain. Research in one of the most polluted places -- Mexico City -- sheds light on what might be happening in Inland Southern California.
PHOTO CREDIT: Tara Lohan
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking -- using water, sand and chemicals at high-pressure to crack shale formations and release oil and gas -- is practiced in more than 30 states. But we’re still learning about how communities may be impacted by the practice.
Federal health reform will leave out California's two million undocumented immigrants, a dilemma for multi-status families like Norma Navarro's. Her 7-year-old son Angel is a citizen, but her 10-year-old daughter Aneth is not, meaning they'll have significantly different health care experiences. Photo by Brian Myers, Media Arts Center San Diego
I had a sense that care for the undocumented took place in the shadows of the U.S. health system. How did people find care? Who provided it? Did barriers to care make them sicker? Perhaps most pressing to me as a reporter, why would any undocumented immigrant talk to me?
Four 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalists give an inside look at "Prognosis: Profits," a series about North Carolina's nonprofit hospitals, the huge sums of money they're making, and the impacts on patients.
One of the public health trends these days appears to be a focus on the built environment. Here's how I reported on the connection between improving where people live and bettering their health.
Photographer and multimedia journalist Alison Yin, a 2012 National Health Journalism Fellow, shares how she chronicled the “invisible” struggles of children with asthma through photos and audio.
Why does mental health seem to get hit so much harder by cuts than other arenas? What do these cuts look like on the ground?
Asthma is the most common cause of hospital stays for children. It can strike anyone, but has a disproportionate impact on low-income and African-American children. Katy Murphy, a 2012 National Health Journalism Fellow, shares lessons learned from her Fellowship project for the Oakland Tribune
The Affordable Care Act establishes national standards for health insurance benefits. Should the standards be different for children than for adults? Here are the lessons that 2012 National Health Journalism Fellow Elaine Korry learned during her reporting for The California Report.
With all the media coverage of health reform, there has been surprisingly little reporting about community health centers. Their story is an important one -- and can be told from anywhere in the U.S. I started with many ideas, but quickly set them aside and let the reporting dictate the stories.
Volunteers and residents in the East End take a fitness walk
Recent developments in Richmond, Va., made a story looking at how where you live affects your health a timely endeavor. Through the lens of housing projects in the city's East End, Tammie Smith explains how she reported that residents there have a lower life expectancy than other Richmonders.
Indian country is a very different world from the one most of us mainstream reporters inhabit. Here are some ways to make stories about Native Americans easier to put together and more accurate.
The tobacco industry may not have the commercial presence in the U.S. it once did, but cigarette makers remain some of the most profitable companies in the world. Ricardo Sandoval examines their lobbying and marketing tactics, particularly in the developing world, and offers reporting tips.
Minimally-regulated residential care for the elderly is a fast growing, less expensive alternative to nursing homes. Seattle Times investigative reporter Mike Berens explains how state agencies saved money by placing poor and vulnerable adults in these facilities, then ignored problems, like abuse.
Help wanted. Pay not so great. Excellent chance of injury. You’ll never see an ad like this in the classifieds, but it’s a good description for many jobs. Get tips for reporting on occupational health.
It’s not easy for journalists to undertake testing on humans, nor should it be. But there are stories and situations where it is definitely warranted. Veteran journalist Janet Wilson draws from her own reporting experience to offer tips for your own work.
Journalist Paul Kleyman, who has covered aging issues for more than 20 years, offers tips for covering aging as health reform gets underway.
Get tips for covering the brave new world of personal genomics from a genetic scientist and writer who had his own genome sequenced — then wrote a book about it.
Angelo Solis, a homeless alcoholic, racked up nearly $1 million in medical charges over three years. His case represents the immense health care costs associated with homelessness. Sarah Arnquist offers advice on how to report on this important topic.
Environmental health reporting sheds light on some of the most important decisions a person can make – about their health, their ability to have children, the health of their children, the health of their world. But first you have to get the story right.
Veteran food policy journalist Christopher Cook offers context on "food deserts" and how to identify and report on them in your community.
Like writing about abortion or animal rights, writing about vaccines inevitably raises the ire of certain readers. It is not for the timid. Journalist Amy Wallace writes about being sued by an anti-vaccine activist and offers tips for covering this controversial and emotionally-charged topic.
Two journalists offer tips for your reporting from their award-winning series on the striking gap in health and life expectancies between rich and poor neighborhoods.
Health information technology is a complex and challenging topic to cover, and it's easy to get lost in the jargon. Veteran journalist Neil Versel offers background and story ideas for covering this issue in your community as health reform rolls out. 
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Here's a recap of the latest developments on the health reform front, along with some helpful resources and story ideas for your community. March 21, 2010, 10 p.m. PST
Media coverage of health care quality often hinges on a doctor's personality, rather than measured quality outcomes. Here's a quick primer for journalists looking to do better reporting.
How do you tell the stories of children or teenagers who have stigmatizing health problems without causing harm once the story is published? Laurie Udesky offers tips for reporting with sensitivity — but still getting the story.
Follow the money. That simple phrase – though never uttered by Bob Woodward’s most famous source – has propelled countless reporters to dig deeply into all manner of news stories. And nearly four decades after Woodward and Carl B
My odyssey into the world of tuberculosis began with a simple remark by a well-connected friend in the summer of 2007: "Have you heard that the county TB clinic is overwhelmed with cases?"
When it comes to climate change, the most important impacts of the emissions from our cars, power plants and factories are likely to be broad and indirect. Global warming needs to be examined not just from the perspective of medicine, but from public health.
A "show-me-the-evidence" health journalist offers tips on covering alternative medicine without dismissing all of it out of hand.
Probably every health reporter in the country has been asked at one time or another to write a story about live organ donors. But is the obvious benefiit for the recipient really worth the risk to the living donor?
Eleven million Americans have eating disorders. Here are tips on covering this complex disease from a veteran journalist who faced the issue in her own family.
The national story of poor dental health and its implications — former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher called it a "silent epidemic" in 2000 — isn't getting the attention it deserves. Journalist Eric Eyre lays out the issues and offers tips for covering dental health in your community. 
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Although scientists and public health officials have long worried that an avian flu virus would spark the world's next influenza pandemic — and developed emergency plans for it — it is a mutated swine flu virus that has emerged as the bigger threat. The current swine flu outbreak, which appears to... more »
Imagine if your doctor asked your 12-year-old son to explain to you that you had just been diagnosed with cancer. Get tips and story ideas for covering medical translation, a critical service for millions of patients who don't speak English well.
With the rise in MRSA  and other antibiotic-resistant infections, the few that prove dangerous or deadly invariably make headlines or lead the evening news. Because even basic reporting can stir panic each time a cluster of infections arises, here are tips on presenting these stories with... more »
Not many reporters want to write about homeless people – and not many editors want to read about them. The subject is considered too depressing, too intractable. But there are few crises that are more important to cover – right now.
Journalists have to ask hard questions about where sources get their money – and about the science they are promoting. Following the money trail can be daunting. But journalists and whistleblowers are doing just that and uncovering important connections. Here's what to look for.
Journalist Emily Schmidt had a rare opportunity to humanize the often-hidden story of domestic violence, and some of the systemic judicial problems that arise in connection with it. Here's what she learned.
Native Americans experience higher disease rates than other Americans for problems ranging from diabetes and heart ailments to mental illness and suicides, which contribute to their lower life expectancy. Get tips from a veteran journalist for covering these health issues.
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It started on March 20, 2006, with what I thought was a one-shot story about the health care language gap. Two and a half years later, I am still writing follow-ups (more than 40 articles in all) about the story behind the original story — the long-hidden practice of some insurers of retroactively... more »
Obesity is visible — walk down the street and you bump into it. Diabetes, on the other hand, is silent and tragic. Here are tips for reporting on the links between them.
The best HIV/AIDS coverage goes beyond the latest statistics of how many people are infected or the publication of a new national plan. Get tips for your own HIV/AIDS reporting from a veteran science journalist.

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How can journalists and foundations collaborate to deepen and improve reporting on underserved communities? Our USC Annenberg School of Journalism program in collaboration with The California Endowment, the Wyncote Foundation and Media Impact Funders, convened 75 leaders from both fields.

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