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Lessons from the field

Lessons From the Field

Learn more from award-winning journalists and health experts here. Topics in Health essays offer overviews of key issues, while Craft essays present “how-to” tips from the Center for Health Journalism Digital.

Topics in Health

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After living there for over a decade, I know San Francisco is uniquely situated when it comes to...
Guadalupe Vargas with her daughter Jaylani, 1, outside their mold covered bedroom window at the Walnut Creek Apartments.
Bad housing has emerged as a key issue in California's Sonoma County races for elected office since...
Rochelle Nishimoto recounts the death of her son Jason with her other son Adrian.
Two reporters set out to answer a question: Was the horrific death of a mentally ill inmate in a...
Children play in water infested with blue-green algae at Silverwood Lake in San Bernardino County.
"I had fair warning that gathering data on blue-green algae toxins in California was going to be an...

"Finding families touched by the death of a child was hard," writes Sammy Caiola of the...

A year after Michael Brown was killed by police in Ferguson, a reporter returned to the...

The secretive world of pharmaceutical pricing is mired in opacity. To investigate how pricey...

A look at what happens to children who've lost parents to death, mental illness, addiction and...

For a reporting project on food insecurity in Native American communities, finding the data was...

In the southern U.S., tropical diseases such as Chagas disease, toxocariasis, leishmaniasis can...

"Finding women who would be candid about their stories of abuse was incredibly difficult,"...

Journalist Lottie Joiner recently set out to explore what happens to young African American men...

The health disparities between Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas are real. Reporter Alex...

In Asian American families, where the subject of sex is particularly taboo and parents may lack...

On Tuesday, National Fellow Michael LaForgia and two colleagues received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize...

"There were a few times when I felt I had reached a dead end," writes Patricia Wight. "I worried...

A mysterious cluster of rare, fatal birth defects has devastated families in three rural...

Most families didn't want to talk to SinoVision reporter Melody Cao about autism in their...

"It’s around 10 p.m. when I call a crisis worker for victims of domestic violence in remote...

The percentage of babies born to women who didn't receive prenatal care had increased...

Hawaiian parents were describing a foster care system that was biased against Hawaiians, yet...

As journalist Ada Calhoun "started casting around for potential good news in the child welfare...

A view from the inside of a youth lockup facility.

How one reporter overcame closed courts and bad data to get the scoop on Arkansas' juvenile...

It started as a series of reports on the dangers Latino children face when they're not placed in...

KCRW reporter Avishay Artsy set out to report on ethnic disparities in cancer outcomes. After...

For her three-part series on the health effects of rising violent crime in Merced County,...

The infections that patients pick up inside hospitals can be debilitating and even deadly. Yet...

If you're pitching a story that’s going to take you off deck for dailies, it helps to have two...

A year after Thomas Eric Duncan died from Ebola after seeking care at a Texas hospital, what’s...

In the fields of Calif.'s Ventura County, some workers only speak Mixteco. The cultural and...

As a journalist, both homelessness and mental illness are uniquely challenging topics to report...

Nearly 60 hospitals have closed in the U.S. since 2010. In reporting on how hospital closures...

"As a journalist and as a person, there’s something therapeutic about being entrusted with...

Despite the numbers of Floridians stranded in a health policy no man’s land – earning too much...

Advocates for a bill to provide health care to undocumented immigrants rally in at the Capitol in Sacramento. (Photo by LA Times/Hector Amezcua)

When LA Times reporter Soumya Karlamangla started looking into health care policies affecting...

For three months this year, I spent time with some of the sickest, most expensive patients in...

Raymond McElfers has his throat examined by his doctor. (Photo by Emily Maxwell | WCPO)

Reporter Lisa Bernard-Kuhn tackled an ambitious project looking at how doctor offices and...

The strategy of using cell phones and texts to nudge people toward healthier decisions makes a...

(Photo by Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News)

There's little data available on in-home caregiving, which makes reporting on the issue...

Two Herald reporters are being honored with the Selden Ring Award this week for their "Innocents...

Stuart Hodes with his wife Helen, who has Alzheimer's. (Photo credit: Amanda Inscore/The News-Press)

Reporter Frank Gluck recently spent five months reporting on how Alzheimer’s disease has...

In Baltimore, violence has marred countless lives. But Baltimore Sun reporter Andrea McDaniels...

Last year marked a turning point for people living with chronic hep C and public radio reporter...

We've all heard the stories of hospital closures, but what about when hospital beds go unfilled...

The challenges are different in many rural areas, such as Eastern Montana.

When I started reporting on Montana's "aging tsunami," I wanted to know what solutions held the...

Dennis Kreisher, an Allentown 'super-utilizer' of the health care system. (Tim Darragh/The Morning Call)

A strongly reported series examining a new program targeting 'super-utilizers' in Pennsylvania...

Despite Wendy Davis' filibuster, Texas lawmakers passed strict new abortion regulations in 2013...

The Michael Brown case has come to symbolize popular disillusionment with finding justice, but...

Orange County isn't the first place you'd expect to find child malnutrition.

Southern California's Orange County has a reputation as an affluent playground, making the...

Approaching Fallon, Nevada

A reporting trip that set out to investigate the causes behind a mysterious childhood cancer...

Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred

When I tackled the topic of loneliness as a 2013 National Health Journalism Fellowship project,...

By 2012, when I started my fellowship project, several journalists -- in Philadelphia and...

The U.S. locks up more individuals per capita than any other country in the world. We have 2.2...

We already knew about air pollution's link to asthma, heart disease, lung cancer, and shorter...

PHOTO CREDIT: Tara Lohan

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking -- using water, sand and chemicals at high-pressure to crack...

Federal health reform will leave out California's two million undocumented immigrants, a dilemma for multi-status families like Norma Navarro's. Her 7-year-old son Angel is a citizen, but her 10-year-old daughter Aneth is not, meaning they'll have significantly different health care experiences. Photo by Brian Myers, Media Arts Center San Diego

I had a sense that care for the undocumented took place in the shadows of the U.S. health system...

Four 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalists give an inside look at "Prognosis: Profits," a series about...

One of the public health trends these days appears to be a focus on the built environment. Here'...

Photographer and multimedia journalist Alison Yin, a 2012 National Health Journalism Fellow,...

Why does mental health seem to get hit so much harder by cuts than other arenas? What do these...

Asthma is the most common cause of hospital stays for children. It can strike anyone, but has...

The Affordable Care Act establishes national standards for health insurance benefits. Should...

With all the media coverage of health reform, there has been surprisingly little reporting about...

Volunteers and residents in the East End take a fitness walk

Recent developments in Richmond, Va., made a story looking at how where you live affects your...

Indian country is a very different world from the one most of us mainstream reporters inhabit....

The tobacco industry may not have the commercial presence in the U.S. it once did, but cigarette...

Minimally-regulated residential care for the elderly is a fast growing, less expensive...

Help wanted. Pay not so great. Excellent chance of injury. You’ll never see an ad like this in...

It’s not easy for journalists to undertake testing on humans, nor should it be. But there are...

Journalist Paul Kleyman, who has covered aging issues for more than 20 years, offers tips for...

Get tips for covering the brave new world of personal genomics from a genetic scientist and...

Angelo Solis, a homeless alcoholic, racked up nearly $1 million in medical charges over three...

Rusting oil drums

Environmental health reporting sheds light on some of the most important decisions a person can...

Veteran food policy journalist Christopher Cook offers context on "food deserts" and how to...

Like writing about abortion or animal rights, writing about vaccines inevitably raises the ire of...

Two journalists offer tips for your reporting from their award-winning series on the striking...

Health information technology is a complex and...

Health Reform Lesson Photo 2.jpg

Here's a recap of the latest developments on the health reform front, along with some helpful...

Media coverage of health care quality often hinges on a doctor's personality, rather than...

How do you tell the stories of children or teenagers who have stigmatizing health problems...

Follow the money. That simple phrase – though never uttered...

My odyssey into the world of tuberculosis began with a simple remark by a well-connected friend...

When it comes to climate change, the most important impacts of the emissions...

A "show-me-the-evidence" health journalist offers tips on covering alternative medicine without...

Probably every health reporter in the country has been asked at one time or another to write a...

Eleven million Americans have eating disorders. Here are tips on covering this complex disease...

The national story of poor dental health and its implications — former U.S. Surgeon General...

Swine Flu Resources Photo 3.JPG

Although scientists and public health officials have long worried that an avian flu virus would...

Imagine if your doctor asked your 12-year-old son to explain to you that you had just been...

With the rise in MRSA  and other antibiotic-resistant infections, the few that prove dangerous...

Not many reporters want to write about homeless people – and not many editors want to read about...

Journalists have to ask hard questions about where sources get their money – and about the...

Journalist Emily Schmidt had a rare opportunity to humanize the often-hidden story of domestic...

Native Americans experience higher disease rates than other Americans for problems ranging from...

Girion.Rescission.Content.Picture.jpg

It started on March 20, 2006, with what I thought was a one-shot story about the health care...

Obesity is visible — walk down the street and you bump into it. Diabetes, on the other hand, is...

The best HIV/AIDS coverage goes beyond the latest statistics of how many people are infected or the...

Craft

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
One reporter's intrepid data quest has given reporters nationwide a new look at how their local...
Dr. Samantha Smith checks on 58-year-old patient Paul Shelton. He has severe liver scarring as a result of hepatitis C, but his
How one reporter "fell down a data rabbit hole" while investigating how many Medicaid patients were...
Photo: John Moore/Getty Images
What to do when you can't find the right research for your story? A Florida newspaper pursued a...
Are California hospitals doing a better job of preventing serious mistakes in the wake of a state...
While nearly half of Florida's kids rely on Medicaid, the program has battled persistent problems...
Before Jackie Valley tackled her series on the unmet mental health needs of Nevada's children, “...
In reporting her series on mental illness in Shasta County, Alayna Shulman didn't find the data she...
A deep dive into the data on federal pay-for-performance programs for hospitals turned up a few key...
 The Rev. Thomas Walker sings during a service at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Rocky Mount. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer at age 47 and has become a prostate cancer activist. [Photo credit: Ethan Hyman/NewsObserver.com]
African American men in North Carolina suffer from some of the world’s highest rates of prostate...
Reporter Liza Gross was seeking a fresh way to convey the risky environmental conditions facing...
"What came back was hundreds of pages of heavily redacted records with no names attached," Corwin writes.
Reporter Tom Corwin of The Augusta Chronicle was shocked to learn of 82 unexpected deaths in 2013...
Photojournalist David Gross hatched a plan to crowdfund a project in which he'd photograph and...
A big national health report or new story breaks, and you'd like to cover the news with a local or...
JON LOWENSTEIN/NOOR
To really engage audiences and maximize the impact of a big reporting project, it's vital to plan...
(Photo by AP via Politico)
Last fall, we had no idea how the Obamacare rollout was going to go. So Politico's Jennifer...
Rick Rayburn encourages his wife Marianne to help him make soup for supper. Capital Public Radio | Andrew Nixon
Reporters covering stories of people in stressful situations can find themselves struggling with "...
Andrew Nixon | Capital Public Radio
When reporters strive to foster community engagement, it not only stands to make for better...
Creating custom hormone therapy is big business for compounding pharmacies. Regulated by state...
Reflections on Reporting About Pesticides and Neuroscience
It is difficult not to view poverty-stricken farmworkers as victims and pesticide manufacturers (...
For the Dennis Hunt grant, Burt Hubbard and I-News produced a package of stories including video,...
Bill Greene/Globe Staff
Shortly after two teens were shot in 2011 by another boy who mistakenly thought they were part of a...
Some years ago, I began hearing from my sources that I should investigate the generic drug industry...
Maria Guzman has faced an emotional journey due to violence in El Salvador. Her son disappeared two years ago.
When I think about lessons learned in the past six months, two phrases come to mind: time...
To document Rubbertown, Ky., residents’ claims of unusually high rates of disease, I needed hard...
In 1973, nearly every Michigan resident was exposed to a toxic chemical. As I brought this story...
At first, investigating what kind of discipline the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board was meting...
How could legislation designed to protect people from suspected cancer-causing compounds in...
When it comes to health issues, the southeastern corner of Virginia usually is pretty average. That...
Timothy Brown, formerly known as "The Berlin Patient" (Eva Kolenko)
Former Bloomberg reporter Rob Waters describes his two-year-long quest to interview the “Berlin...
Karen Weintraub, a former editor at The Boston Globe, offers tips for editing health and science...
Pairing English-language and ethnic media to report stories can be rewarding and result in great...
There’s hardly a health story out there that cannot benefit from some good data – from estimates of...
Pulling off a narrative story in the medical world requires a different kind of story thinking and...
Get tips on covering medical research stories from veteran AP reporter Lauran Neergaard. 
The first step in asking a stranger to open up to you is to follow the golden rule: Treat others...
Rural adults are older, sicker, less educated, less well paid and less likely to have health...

Announcements

The 2017 California Fellowship, for California-based journalists only, will be held March 5-9, 2017 in Los Angeles. This Fellowship will focus on vulnerable populations and access to care and health care reform and innovation. We also take an in-depth look at how community conditions influence individuals' prospects for health. Each Fellow receives a $1,000 stipend to assist with the costs of reporting an ambitious Fellowship project on a California health issue, as well as six months of mentoring by a Senior Fellow. Deadline to apply is Dec. 1. For more information, go here.

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