Reporting the Shortened Lives Series: Lessons Learned

Published on
July 12, 2010

Former health journalism Fellows Suzanne Bohan and Sandy Kleffman, colleagues at the Bay Area News Group, teamed up to write Shortened Lives, a groundbreaking series on how where you live affects your health – and won a White House Correspondents' Association award for their efforts.

Today, they shared some of the lessons they learned while researching Shortened Lives with USC/California Endowment National Health Journalism Fellows meeting in Los Angeles this week.

Here's just a sampling:

1. Find your people first, because that's what takes the most time. "The research will always be there," Bohan said.

2. In reporting on social determinants of health, anticipate and be able to answer questions from editors and readers on the role of personal responsibility in living a healthy life.

3. Get buy-in from your local public health officials. They can help you find and crunch data to guide your reporting.

Bohan and Kleffman have written an excellent essay for ReportingonHealth on how they reported the series and a useful resource guide for your own reporting.  I'll hope you'll check them out!