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Join the Conversation on How We Can Improve Reporting on Health

Join the Conversation on How We Can Improve Reporting on Health

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Reporting on Health is celebrating its third birthday and we want to hear from you, our community members, on how we are doing.  

We got our start in 2009 with a party at Los Angeles' hip Red Cat Theater bar and with an inspiring talk by participatory culture guru Henry Jenkins as he joined the USC Annenberg faculty.

As I reflect back on where we've come from, I have to thank all of you in the Reporting on Health community for making the site an important destination and an inspiring place for conversation on the state of health journalism, on public health, the quality of care and much more. Many of you have taken advantage of the site's collaborative possibilities to share ideas that contribute to a national conversation about storytelling and reporting on health in our communities. Your voices and your ideas have made Reporting on Health what it is and are key to its future.

We want to ask you to help us again, as we seek to make the site even more welcoming, by asking you to take a few minutes to complete our user survey. Please click here to begin. And stay tuned for questions and comments through social media over the next week as Angilee Shah, our community manager (, continues that conversation and shares what we learn.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the visionary leadership at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism and The California Endowment, which funds this online forum.

Mary Lou Fulton, who had a distinguished journalism career building online communities before joining The California Endowment and overseeing its media grant-making, had this to share about what we do: "We live in an era when being connected and sharing information is crucial for our work and our careers. Reporting on Health helps make that happen for health journalists, bloggers and thinkers interested in the craft of health journalism and having an impact on the broader community."   

Creating a Participatory Culture: Thinkers Who Guide Us   

Joining an online community like Reporting on Health is a lot like belonging to a quilt-making circle. As Henry Jenkins describes it, the quilting his grandmother loved provided a way for people to get together and learn from each other –a way to make "the community of knowledge a ritual" in quilter's lives:

"There's no expert. People are learning from each other. Skills can pass from someone who knows a little more to someone who knows a little less. It's a social mode of production. ..Media on the internet does many of those things."

John Seeley Brown, another important thinker on the culture of learning, also shaped our philosophy. Back in the day when he was chief scientist of Xerox Corp. and director of its famous Palo Alto Research Center, he noticed that the technicians who operated the company's early mammoth copiers learned and innovated because of casual conversations around the water cooler- the precursor to the participatory learning culture of the Internet.  Those ideas have continued to shape Seeley Brown's vision in the Internet and social media age.

We learned a lot from these thinkers, yet also needed to take big ideas down to the practical level. The dedicated members of our volunteer board have provided guiding ideas and played a critical role in all the innovations on the site.

Initially, we struggled to define ourselves. The key question: how big should our tent be and should the site serve as a place where journalists would interact with other media creators, health policy thinkers, providers and community activists. In the early days, Lisa Stone, founder of BlogHer, urged us to invite everyone to join in the Reporting on Health conversation on equal terms. That's enriched the site and the conversation.  Then, we decided to put front and center on the home page the blogs and stories by members and our contributing editors, with Community Manager Angilee Shah serving as the principal evangelist for that change. There have been a number of other changes – big and small – on the site since that launch party. And we expect more changes going forward.

We figure that Reporting on Health can stay innovative and relevant to you by constantly adapting to your ideas and the enormous changes reshaping the media and health landscape around us. Key to all this is your continued participation. So please take a moment to tell us why you do or don't participate on the site; what you value about it; and how we can keep doing better. Here's that link once again to the survey. Please click here to begin.  


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