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Health Matters Webinar Series

Previous Webinars

February 16, 2022

The public records request is perhaps the powerful crowbar a journalist has to pry open urgent information and data hidden from public view. Freeing those records from the shadows can be especially vital during a pandemic, as agencies quickly make decisions that carry life-or-death consequences. But it’s rarely as simple as updating a file form and firing it off to the agency in question. In this webinar, we’ll discuss the basics of records requests and strategies to make them more successful, before turning to some of the specific kinds of requests you might consider making around COVID-19 at this stage in the pandemic.  Attendees will leave with fresh ideas and strategies for holding power to account in their coverage area.

January 19, 2022

As we stagger into the third year of the pandemic and omicron rages, experts increasingly disagree about key questions of public health and infection control. It takes nuanced reporting to cover the latest, often confusing developments. As scientists race to understand this latest variant, prominent researchers are challenging highly regarded federal scientists on isolation and quarantine recommendations, testing, boosters, and whether COVID has become endemic. In this webinar, award-winning journalists Helen Branswell of STAT and Katherine J. Wu of The Atlantic discuss their strategies for staying ahead of an ever-changing story. 

December 16, 2021

Our long-held pandemic fears that an even more terrifying variant was somewhere in the offing seem to have come true with the arrival of omicron and its myriad mutations. But we also risk jumping the gun. So much about this new variant remains unknown, and the scientific chorus keeps hammering the theme of uncertainty, at least until early lab research can furnish more clues. Is omicron more transmissible? Better able to evade our body’s immune responses? Our arsenal of vaccines? Does it readily reinfect people who already had COVID? Does it tend to lead to more or less severe disease than the delta variant? In this webinar, we’ll hear from a leading infectious disease expert on what we know and don’t know about this latest variant of concern. Dr. Celine Gounder, a leading epidemiologist, medical analyst and host of the COVID podcast “Epidemic,” will brief us on the latest research, clarify what we still don’t know, and help us think through where the pandemic takes us from here.

November 16, 2021

Join award-winning journalist and author Sam Quinones in a webinar exploring the new reality of the nation’s addiction crisis and the most promising solutions emerging in communities. After appearing to level off, overdose deaths have skyrocketed by almost 30% since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and by nearly 50% in some states. So many people are dying — more than 90,000 in 2020 — that the Biden administration is embracing strategies such as distributing clean syringes, once considered taboo. Quinones talks with Michelle Levander, director of the Center for Health Journalism, about how he reports on these overlapping threats and weaves together analysis of the drug trade, insights from neuroscience, and stories of the human toll to create a gripping narrative. He will also share story ideas and tips for understanding and reporting on the changing addiction crisis in your community.

November 03, 2021

This year saw a scorcher of a summer, the hottest on record. Worse, it could be the coldest summer we’ll see in our lifetimes, as accelerating climate change makes extreme events like the June heat dome that broiled the Pacific Northwest a regular occurrence. But the threats posed by climate change are not shared equally. The poor, the elderly and communities of color are at especially high risk. As the annual death toll mounts, states such as California have failed to accurately track heat-related death and injuries, and state and federal regulations have failed to ensure workers in industries vulnerable to heat remain safe. In this webinar, we’ll glean lessons and insights from a yearlong Los Angeles Times investigation into extreme heat, reporting that offers a powerful example of how robust journalism can shine a line on this growing public health emergency. We’ll identify gaps in state and federal tracking efforts, and outline policy changes that could help. Attendees will gain strategies, storylines, and fresh ideas for covering one of the deadliest impacts of climate change.

September 29, 2021

The pandemic is far from over but crucial COVID-19 protections and benefits are gone. When the Supreme Court struck down the CDC eviction moratorium in August, nearly 6 million renters were behind on rent, about 1 million faced the imminent threat of losing their homes, and landlords across the country were still waiting for federal rental assistance promised last spring. Some local or state moratoriums and assistance programs offer renters protection — for now. But in many states, evictions cases are jamming the courts and families are scrambling to find increasingly scarce affordable housing. The crisis is compounded by the expiration of expanded unemployment benefits, which kept some 5.5 million people from falling into poverty during the pandemic. This webinar explores the end of renter protections, unemployment benefits and other emergency relief, and what it means for the nation’s pandemic recovery and the health and well-being of low-income people, their families and communities.

September 09, 2021

The public health message so far has been loud and clear: Vaccines are highly effective against COVID-19 — even more so if you focus on hospitalizations and deaths. Yet a worsening delta surge has cast a growing spotlight on breakthrough infections and the risks they pose to people with compromised immune systems and seniors. New studies have fueled fresh worries about waning vaccine efficacy over time, and large outbreaks among vaccinated Americans have captured media attention. In this webinar, we’ll discuss what we know about the effectiveness of vaccines in the face of the delta surge, what role booster shots might play, and how reporters can responsibly report a complex and fast-moving story.

August 18, 2021

More than 100 anti-transgender rights bills were introduced in state legislatures this year. Many focus on children and teens. In this webinar, we’ll look at the medical and mental health needs of young people as they transition and discuss barriers to care and insurance coverage. We’ll examine the impact of policies that exclude and demonize transgender youth and the heightened challenges facing those of color. Participants will learn how to approach this multifaceted and timely story with rigor, nuance, sensitivity and understanding. Speakers will share the latest research on transgender mental health as well as story ideas and practical suggestions for finding sources and interviewing youth.

August 03, 2021

The Center for Health Journalism offers you an opportunity to transform your reporting by teaching you how to “interview the data” as if it were a human source.  In this webinar, you’ll hear from one of our data mentors, Star Tribune Data Editor MaryJo Webster, about what it takes to have a successful application for the program as well as from recent program participants. You’ll learn more about what you'll get from this fellowship program and provide insight into how to craft your application and project pitch. This session will be worth your time whether you've decided to apply or even if you are just curious to learn more about the program. Read more about the Data Fellowship and topical priorities for projects.

July 21, 2021

In the age of algorithms and informatics, law enforcement agencies across the country have turned to data-driven programs to help fight crime. But what happens when such programs infringe on civil rights, amplify racial biases or become abusive? And how can journalists hold those agencies accountable while detailing the steep human costs for those targeted? In this webinar, 2021 Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporters Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi will explain how they unearthed a secretive policing operation in Florida that used data to harass residents and profile schoolchildren. And they will discuss strategies that reporters can use to go beyond press releases and sniff out similar programs in their own communities. 



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