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On Getting Readers

On Getting Readers

Picture of Angilee Shah

For writers of most any stripe, getting the gig is only half the battle. Once you've finished your masterpiece, be it an investigative report or a quick blog post, how do you cut through the vast Internet -- Google has already indexed more than one trillion pages -- to find the readers for whom you have worked so hard?

It's a staple skill for bloggers and an increasingly important task for journalists in every kind of newsroom. Getting people to see and talk about your work is not just rewarding; it's often part of getting and keeping momentum in your career. So, this week at Career GPS, I'm diving into the ways you can share your important work in health media on the Internet.

As always, you can find job, internship, awards and fellowship opportunities at the end of this post. If you have ideas for future posts or listings you'd like to see here, you can log in and let me know. Keep up with Career GPS by signing up for weekly newsletters or via RSS.

Center for Health Journalism Digital, where you are reading this post, is a unique community on the web in many ways. It's a place for journalists, bloggers, advocates and experts to share their work and knowledge for the sake of better health media for the wider public. Members here can share their published work, comment without waiting for editor approval, post their own blog entries with links to their work and be featured in weekly emails and by @ReportingHealth on Twitter. In short, my plug is that ReportingonHealth is a great place to get more people informed about your work on health. (If you're not member, it's easy to join and create a profile.)

But there are many other places to target specific audiences and find engaged readers. The mega-social media sites of the moment are very useful for sending information and links to targeted audiences.

Find active Facebook and LinkedIn groups where you can share your work. Health 2.0 has over 12,000 members on LinkedIn and members regularly share a lot of content. ReportingonHealth's Facebook page has an open wall for quickly sharing ideas and links.

If you are on Twitter -- and distributing content is a great reason to be on Twitter -- adding hashtags is a way to get new eyes to your work. You can add keywords like #health or #healthreform to your tweets, or, more strategically, use hashtags associated with events that you attend or report on. #hcsm can get you plugged into weekly "Healthcare Communications and Social Media" conversations, while #hcmktg is associated with a group interested in healthcare marketing. (If this is Greek to you, here's an explanation of Twitter and hashtags.)

Shuka Kalantari, master of outreach for Health Dialogues on KQED, suggests targeted outreach. For new projects or initiatives, she tweets information to big names in health news, many of whom are supportive and retweet (pass along the note) to their followers. For example, @CitizenCohn (Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic) and @scotthensley (NPR's Scott Hensley) have 4,400 and almost 3,000 followers respectively. Kalantari says to seek out websites specifically focused on the subject of the story you want to share. "I've found blogs to be receptive of personalized outreach, especially the ones focused on the particular issues that we're covering," she writes in email.

You can also submit links to bookmarking sites that help readers find and rank content, such as, Digg or StumbleUpon. How to Split an Atom has a post, a few years old but still clear and succinct, explaining various bookmarking sites and the differences between them. The takeaway message is this: Find the right community to share your content with and share only the material that you think will enrich their reading.

Smaller networks can be powerful distribution tools as well, helping generate buzz and getting your content in position to go viral. Diabetes health advocate Manny Hernandez suggests reaching out to activist networks. Diabetes Advocates, for example, is relatively small with 25 members, but each member has networks of his own and might help share your work on diabetes. To reach them, you can send text and links to info [at] diabetesadvocates [dot] org. (Be sure to mention ReportingonHealth and Manny Hernandez's name.)

Social marketing consultant Nedra Weinrich says that is "a great place to share health campaign-related materials." She also recommends Path of the Blue Eye, an online community focused on health marketing communications. Members of their community can share links to news articles and other types of content.

There are a million more ways to share your work online. What are your favorites? Share in comments or send me an email (healthj [at]

Jobs, Awards and Fellowships

Health Care Editor, Deputy Health Care Editor, Healthcare Reporters, POLITICO
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Status: Full Time
Medium: Online

Nutrition/Health Writers, Frugivore Magazine (via Ed)
Location: Telecommute
Status: Freelance
Medium: New Magazine (late October launch)

Managing Editor, Practical Diabetology (via craigslist)
Location: Telecommute/New York City
Status: Part Time
Medium: Trade

Medical Reporter, The Bulletin (via
Location: Bend, Oregon
Status: Full Time
Medium: Newspaper

Reporter, Modern Healthcare
Location: Washington, D.C.
Status: Full Time
Medium: Weekly Trade

Senior Communications Specialist, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Status: Full Time
Medium: Marketing

Staff Writer/Reporter, Community Health (via
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Status: Part Time
Medium: Magazine

Web Editor, Kaiser Health News
Location: Washington, D.C.
Status: Full Time
Medium: Online

REMINDER: Medical Evidence Bootcamp, Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at MIT
Eligibility: Reporters, writers, editors or producers from any country with at least three years of full-time experience in journalism
Award: Up to $750 of travel expenses, accommodation, and most meals to attend program from Dec. 7–10, 2010
Deadline: Oct. 4, 2010
From the Website: "One of the most difficult challenges facing journalists is the uncertainty of evidence in science, medicine, energy and environmental studies. Studies are hard to decipher, and sometimes appear to reach contradictory conclusions. But the public's interest in health and science news, and the need for reliable information, is growing. To help journalists make sense of all this, we offer an intensive course, on how to evaluate scientific and medical evidence."

REMINDER: U.S. Young Journalist Program, Fulbright Kommission
Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen, with academic achievement and a good proposal and good to very good German language skills
Award: 10 month stay in Germany with stipends and expenses, as well as language training
Deadline: Oct. 18, 2010
From the Website: "The approximately 10-month stay begins in September and typically consists of an initial research phase, during which the grantee becomes familiar with his/her project in a German setting, followed by one or more internships with German institutions of print or broadcast media."

REMINDER: Association of Health Care Journalists - Centers for Disease Control Health Journalism Fellowships
Eligibility: Professional journalists working in the United States
Award: Week of study of public health topics at CDC campuses, membership, travel, lodging and meals
Deadline: Oct. 22
From the Website: "The AHCJ-CDC Health Journalism Fellows will: Attend sessions on epidemiology, global disease prevention efforts, pandemic flu preparedness, climate change, vaccine safety, obesity, autism and more; tour the CDC director's National Emergency Operations Center; meet new sources on policy and research; learn how to tap the agency's abundant resources to produce better stories."

REMINDER: Philip Meyer Journalism Award
Eligibility: Work published between Oct. 1, 2009 and Sept. 30, 2010 reported using social science research methods, entry fee $25-$115
Award: Cash prizes of $200-$500
Deadline: Nov. 1, 2010
From the Website: "The awards are in honor of Philip Meyer, professor emeritus and former Knight Chair of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Meyer is the author of Precision Journalism, the seminal 1972 book (and subsequent editions) that focused growing numbers of journalists on the idea of using social science methods to do better journalism. He pioneered in using survey research as a reporter for Knight Ridder newspapers to explore the causes of race riots in the 1960s."

REMINDER: Interactive Census Workshop (Dec 12-17, 2010)
Eligibility: Journalists with interest in multimedia
Included: Lodging and meals at UC Berkeley, but not travel
Deadline: Nov. 6, 2010
From the Website: "The KDMC at UC Berkeley is offering a customized visual storytelling workshop to train journalists on new ways to process data from the 2010 Census. Fellows will illustrate the information using visualization and mapping tools to create a clearer, more meaningful picture of the complex statistics gathered in the national survey."


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My blog, Policy Prescriptions, is actively looking to recruit more writers interested in health policy topics. Our readership includes physicians, policy makers, and laypersons. Please contact me if interesting in contributing.

Picture of Shuka Kalantari

I wanted to add one more note: I make most of my contacts health journalism conferences. Ie: I got Scott Hensley at NPR as a contact by meeting him at the AHCJ 2010 Conference. I think those occasional real-life connections are really the thread that keeps the social media world together. Otherwise we're all just a bunch of hashtags. ;)

Picture of Angilee Shah

I just shared this post on another community that might be of interest here: WEGO Health. Also a good place to share your work.

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