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Association of Health Care Journalists

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Decades of anti-smoking public health campaigns have turned into background noise. We all know smoking is bad for us, but yet we allow ourselves to get caught up in the sexiness of it when a show like Mad Men comes along. Even our president has admitted to a regular habit.

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If relative risk is the guy that drug companies always want to have at the party, absolute risk is the guy who never gets invited, the total buzz kill, the guy who showed up with someone’s cousin once in a bad outfit and ended up mumbling to himself in the corner about how everything would be better if people just listened to him.

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Until the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the recall of Vioxx seemed to be the biggest corporate disaster of the new millennium.

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Antidote proposed on Friday that medical and science journal editors do more than talk tough about conflicts of interest in their journals.

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Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, made some bold statements at last week’s Association of Health Care Journalists conference in Chicago.

“I usually talk about conflict of interest wearing a flak jacket,” DeAngelis said and proceeded to list all the ways she has gotten tough on authors with ties to the drug or device industries.

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The annual Association of Health Care Journalists conference has become indispensable in a way conferences never are.

Far from just an excuse to see old friends and drink too much, the AHCJ conference is always so packed with great speakers and workshops that writers find themselves wishing for a baby monitor they could set up in one session while they attend a different session down the hall.

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Here are 10 ideas from three journalists talking about how to cover health reform’s rollout at the Association of Health Care Journalists conference in Chicago:

1. Will there be a physician shortage in your area? Start checking in with your local medical school or teaching hospital and the Association of American Medical Colleges and Teaching Hospitals.

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Most journalists don't pay much attention to their local "medically indigent" program, which offers health care to poor people who don't qualify for Medicaid or other government programs. But that's one of the local programs that could be at risk under health reform.

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This probably sounds familiar to most local health reporters.

A public health department puts out a press release about someone in their county catching a communicable disease like West Nile virus, meningitis or H1N1. The press release doesn't provide a person's age or hometown. If you're lucky, it might provide the patient's gender. A little digging reveals that the person was sickened so long ago that the news seems stale at best.

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At ReportingonHealth, we aim to provide useful resources to members from a variety of sources. In that spirit, here are three fellowship opportunities that might interest you. Attend a conference, or become a fellow-in-residence at a university. Either way, if you are interested in these programs, apply soon.

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Announcements

The USC Center for Health Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is seeking two Engagement Editors to serve as thought leaders in one of the most innovative and rewarding arenas in journalism today – “engaged reporting” that puts the community at the center of the reporting process. Learn more about the positions and apply to join our team.

Nowhere was the massive COVID wave of winter 2021 more devastating than in America’s nursing homes, where 71,000 residents died in the surge. In this webinar, we’ll hear from the lead reporter in the USA Today series "Dying for Care," who will show how an original data analysis and an exhaustive reporting effort revealed a pattern of unnecessary deaths that compounded the pandemic’s brutal toll. Sign-up here!

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