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Supporting Knowledge in Health and Health Care Reporting

  • By: NYSHealth
  • Date: July 2017
  • Priority Area: Other
  • Type: Grant Outcome Reports
  • Category: Grant Outcome Report
  • Grantee Name: Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism

Overview

As the nation’s media outlets face shrinking budgets and shoestring staffing, resources for journalists’ continuing education and professional development are limited. Increasingly, reporters are assigned to multiple beats rather than to one specific issue area, so their knowledge of any one area may be relatively superficial. The Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, the supporting nonprofit organization for the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), aims to fill that knowledge gap through an annual four-day national conference that attracts approximately 600–800 reporters, editors, and producers, as well as health care luminaries. The conference covered a wide range of issues, both content-focused (e.g., covering the progress under the Affordable Care Act, health care disparities, aging and long-term care) and skills-focused (e.g., understanding how to read medical studies or interpret hospital quality data). In 2016, NYSHealth awarded the Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism a grant to support AHCJ’s 2017 cohort of New York State Health Journalism Fellowships.

Grantee: Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism

Dates: October 2016–May 2017

Grant Amount: $ 15,360

Grantee Website: https://healthjournalism.org/

Grant ID: 16-04561


Outcomes and Lessons Learned:

  • Awarded fellowships to 12 New York State-based journalists to cover registration, lodging, a travel stipend for the conference, as well as a one-year AHCJ membership;
  • Supported New York State-based journalists and editors from a wide range of publications, including WNYC Public Radio, Crain’s New York Business, The Post-Standard, The Associated Press, Psychology Today, Medpage Today, and Vice Media, as well as independent journalists whose work has been featured in outlets such as Reuters, The Atlantic, and HealthDay.
  • Held conference workshops and sessions meant to deepen journalists’ understanding of the health topics they are called upon to cover most, including health policy, consumer health, social determinants and disparities, medical research and education, and the business of health care; and
  • Provided important information, key resources, and new story ideas that journalists can use in their reporting.


The New York State fellows found the conference to be very helpful and informative, stating that they had picked up new skills, discovered new story ideas, and made useful new contacts. Some of the fellows immediately followed up on story ideas and connections made at the conference; for example, James Mulder of the Syracuse Post-Standard wrote a lengthy piece on hospital consolidation shortly after the meeting. Others say that story ideas from the conference will be worked into longer-term reporting on topics such as mental health/substance use, health policy in New York State, maternal health, and the Affordable Care Act. Attendees report that the fellowships contributed to their professional development in health reporting, allowing them to learn and network at a conference they otherwise would not have been able attend because of financial constraints.

NYSHealth communications staff members attended the conference, networking with the fellows and informing them of NYSHealth projects and initiatives. This allowed NYSHealth to establish new connections and solidify ongoing relationships with journalists who have previously turned to the Foundation as a trusted, credible source for information on various health or health care topics. 

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: The Health Foundation for Western & Central New York contributed $9,600 to support an additional 6 fellows from Central and Western New York. Other funders sponsoring AHCJ’s 2017 conference include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Missouri Foundation for Health, Kansas Health Foundation, California Health Care Foundation, Colorado Health Foundation, and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.