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As Congress goes into recession, the debate over healthcare hits home. But what's really happening on the reform front? Will it meet the needs of the American public? In a 5-hour special series over five days, we'll hear from doctors, hospital administrators, insurance companies, economists and average people about what's driving up healthcare costs, what it will take to make real changes, and what trade-offs people are willing to make to see meaningful reform through.

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Trudy Lieberman is the president of The Association of Health Care Journalists board of directors, and she is the director of the health and medicine reporting program at the Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York. Ms. Lieberman is also a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review, and a contributor to The Nation. Below is her blog post on how health care reporting is possible - and necessary!

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A look at drug company funding for patient advocacy groups.

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Often following a major journalistic investigation a governor or a senator or a president even will call for hearings or declare the creation of a blue ribbon panel to assess the situation and decide how to proceed.

Years can go by before a report, usually thick with euphemism and buck passing, lands on someone's desk, often a different governor or senator or president than the one who called for the assessment. Processes are "streamlined." Efficiencies are realized. Nothing really changes.

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Gary Schwitzer is the professor that health reporters fear. With the creation of HealthNewsReview, he has brought back nightmares of having your work marked up in red and posted on a corkboard for everyone to see.

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Robert Bazell doesn't mince his words when it comes to what he thinks makes good journalism. The three-time Emmy winner and NBC News' chief science and health correspondent doesn't put much stock in journalism school.

"Being a good reporter isn't about having the academic credentials," Bazell explained. What counts, he said in his keynote speech to this year's California Broadcast Fellows, is the ability to talk to the right people. "I think that all reporting is community reporting," he said.

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The Center for Healthcare Decisions has given itself a tough task. Its staff tries to bring together people from different economic brackets and get them to talk in very specific terms about all facets of health care.

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Anyone who has driven the highways around Los Angeles has seen the giant billboards with a chubby man stuffing a giant piece of cake in his mouth next to the words "Dieting Sucks." It's a promo for a plastic surgery practice that promises to use Lap-band surgery to cure overweight patients.

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Every few decades, a flu pandemic spreads westward from Asia. The last one, in 1968, was relatively mild - and we have yet to see the full damage caused by the swine flu outbreak. But the next pandemic is inevitable - and it’s likely to come from China.

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President Barack Obama is searching for a new surgeon general. He might consider screening the resumes of doctors a little lower in the federal ranks.

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Join us for a webinar on the crisis for women, the disproportionate burdens on women of color, and the short-and long-term consequences of the mass exodus of women from workforce. Sign-up here!

COVID-19 has made every journalist a health reporter, whether their usual beat is crime, education or county government.  Our 2021 California Fellowship will make anyone who attends a better health reporter -- and give you a reporting grant of $2,000-$10,000 and five months of mentoring while you work on an ambitious project. Deadline to apply: March 1.

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