"I had fair warning that gathering data on blue-green algae toxins in California was going to be an uphill battle," writes reporter Stephanie Baer. Her effort started with records requests to each of the state's 58 counties.
After living there for over a decade, I know that San Francisco is uniquely situated when it comes to HIV and AIDS, in terms of funding, political will, education, and empowered stakeholders. But I wondered how other counties in California were fairing in their prevention efforts.
"Finding families touched by the death of a child was hard," writes Sammy Caiola of the Sacramento Bee. "And convincing them to talk to me was even harder."
In 2015 a mentally ill inmate in Santa Clara County’s main jail was found beaten to death in his cell. ...
A year after Michael Brown was killed by police in Ferguson, a reporter returned to the neighborhood and spent months talking with families about how they cope with toxic levels of stress and violence.
The secretive world of pharmaceutical pricing is mired in opacity. To investigate how pricey drugs are impacting California’s budget, reporter Pauline Bartolone found she had to be creative, flexible and persistent in her data sleuthing.
A look at what happens to children who've lost parents to death, mental illness, addiction and other causes yielded some notable lessons for one reporter.
For a reporting project on food insecurity in Native American communities, finding the data was the easy, writes Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton. But finding families willing to talk candidly about the problem was much harder.
In the southern U.S., tropical diseases such as Chagas disease, toxocariasis, leishmaniasis can cause debilitating illness, disfigurement and even death. Dr. Seema Yasmin shares how she took on the topic.
"Finding women who would be candid about their stories of abuse was incredibly difficult," writes The Atlantic's Olga Khazan, whose fellowship series explored interventions designed to curb child abuse.
Journalist Lottie Joiner recently set out to explore what happens to young African American men who don't have a father present in their lives. Here she reflects on some of the lessons she learned along the way.
The health disparities between Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas are real. Reporter Alex Smith explains how he "sought to depict not just the struggles these people faced, but also their humor, their hope, their wisdom."
In Asian American families, where the subject of sex is particularly taboo and parents may lack sex education themselves, discussions about sex are less likely to happen. Reporter Thy Vo set out to document the consequences for young Asian Americans.
On Tuesday, National Fellow Michael LaForgia and two colleagues received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. In this essay, he shares some of the lessons he learned while reporting the series.
"There were a few times when I felt I had reached a dead end," writes Patricia Wight. "I worried that my stories would be missing the critical first-person experiences needed to bring the issues surrounding obesity to life."
A mysterious cluster of rare, fatal birth defects has devastated families in three rural counties in Washington state. JoNel Aleccia of The Seattle Times shares key lessons from how she reported her award-nominated fellowship series.
Most families didn't want to talk to SinoVision reporter Melody Cao about autism in their families. Then she turned to the messaging app WeChat, and found parents suddenly were willing to talk about their challenges.
"It’s around 10 p.m. when I call a crisis worker for victims of domestic violence in remote Northern California," writes reporter Emily Cureton. "I’m panicking, 150 miles away in Oregon. I’m really afraid someone is going to get hurt tonight."
The percentage of babies born to women who didn't receive prenatal care had increased dramatically in Bexar County, Texas, over four years. What was driving this? Sometimes the lack of answers becomes part of the story.
Hawaiian parents were describing a foster care system that was biased against Hawaiians, yet they had trouble providing solid examples. As a reporter, how was I to find an entry point to a system cloaked in confidentiality? Here's what I learned.
As journalist Ada Calhoun "started casting around for potential good news in the child welfare world," she began delving into the country's "baby courts," where judges take a far more active role in bringing families back together.
How one reporter overcame closed courts and bad data to get the scoop on Arkansas' juvenile justice system, where minor offenses can result in children locked up with far more serious offenders.
It started as a series of reports on the dangers Latino children face when they're not placed in car seats. It bloomed into a full-scale public awareness campaign. Here’s how one dogged reporter made it happen.
KCRW reporter Avishay Artsy set out to report on ethnic disparities in cancer outcomes. After originally planning on covering three groups, he found he was able to tell more compelling stories by narrowing his focus to African-Americans and colon cancer.
For her three-part series on the health effects of rising violent crime in Merced County, reporter Ana Ibarra interviewed victims and family members struggling with pain and raw emotion. Here she shares a few of the reporting lessons she learned along the way.
The infections that patients pick up inside hospitals can be debilitating and even deadly. Yet many hospitals fail to follow simple protocols, and access to information is limited. Here are five tips for reporting on hospital infections.
If you're pitching a story that’s going to take you off deck for dailies, it helps to have two things: a great character and a clear wrongdoer. When I decided to look into a shortage of residential addiction treatment facilities in California’s Imperial County, I thought I had those ironed out.
A year after Thomas Eric Duncan died from Ebola after seeking care at a Texas hospital, what’s different about health preparedness in the U.S.? Reporter Anna Almendrala set out to answer that question, and found a series of heartbreaking stories of loss along the way.
In the fields of Calif.'s Ventura County, some workers only speak Mixteco. The cultural and language barriers make it difficult for them to access health care. Reporter Julio Vaqueiro Borbolla tells the story of how he went about the difficult task of gaining their trust and telling their stories.
As a journalist, both homelessness and mental illness are uniquely challenging topics to report on. When combined, the reporting challenges double, but so do the potential insights. Claudia Boyd-Barrett shares lessons from her experience reporting on the issue in California's Ventura County.
Nearly 60 hospitals have closed in the U.S. since 2010. In reporting on how hospital closures affect poor patients in Rust Belt towns, reporter Sean Hamill found first-person accounts to be crucial. But backing up those stories with data and geographical comparisons also provided essential context.
"As a journalist and as a person, there’s something therapeutic about being entrusted with someone’s personal rock bottom, and being a vessel for their story," writes journalist Jazelle Hunt. "There’s something therapeutic and powerful about standing with someone in his or her pain."
Despite the numbers of Floridians stranded in a health policy no man’s land – earning too much for Medicaid but not enough for subsidies – the “coverage gap” was getting little attention from policymakers and media. A reporter at the Miami Herald set out to change that, by telling their stories.
When LA Times reporter Soumya Karlamangla started looking into health care policies affecting immigrants, she had no idea how fast the California policy landscape was about to change. Reflecting on her reporting journey over the past year, Karlamangla offers key tips for staying ahead of the story.
For three months this year, I spent time with some of the sickest, most expensive patients in America — the so-called "super-utilizers." During that time, I’ve learned about the great promise of programs to help such patients, and why innovations that both improve health and save money are so rare.
Reporter Lisa Bernard-Kuhn tackled an ambitious project looking at how doctor offices and hospitals in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana are working through the growing pains and gains ushered in by the ACA. Along the way, she learned a number of useful reporting lessons, shared here.
The strategy of using cell phones and texts to nudge people toward healthier decisions makes a lot of sense. But as L.A. Times' Eryn Brown discovered in reporting her series on "m-health," the promise of these programs is still far ahead of the reality.
There's little data available on in-home caregiving, which makes reporting on the issue challenging. Unlike nursing homes, in-home care suffers from little oversight. But that's why it's such an important topic to cover. Here are some essential resources and tips to get started.
Two Herald reporters are being honored with the Selden Ring Award this week for their "Innocents Lost" series that chronicled the abuse and neglect deaths of 477 Florida children. Here they share how they reported the project.
Reporter Frank Gluck recently spent five months reporting on how Alzheimer’s disease has affected Southwest Florida, where the population of seniors is twice the national average. Here he shares some essential reporting lessons and tips for others tackling the topic in their region.
In Baltimore, violence has marred countless lives. But Baltimore Sun reporter Andrea McDaniels wanted to explore the deeper, long-lasting effects of violence. Her extended reporting crystalized in an award-winning three-part series. Here she shares the challenges she faced and lessons learned.
Last year marked a turning point for people living with chronic hep C and public radio reporter Kristin Gourlay led the way in documenting the bittersweet promise of new treatments. In this post, she shares how she reported the series and the resources she found invaluable.
We've all heard the stories of hospital closures, but what about when hospital beds go unfilled? Kristen Schorsch of Crain's Chicago Business examined the trend of "overbedded" hospitals in Illinois and shares tips and resources on how to report similar stories in your region.
When I started reporting on Montana's "aging tsunami," I wanted to know what solutions held the most promise. But as I delved into the issues, I was forced to reexamine my assumptions. Sometimes the best stories take a fresh look at what we think we know.
A strongly reported series examining a new program targeting 'super-utilizers' in Pennsylvania debunks a number of myths about the system's sickest and most vulnerable patients. Timothy Darragh tells the story behind the story and the lessons he learned along the way.
Despite Wendy Davis' filibuster, Texas lawmakers passed strict new abortion regulations in 2013. Here's what one reporter on the front lines learned from covering the changing landscape of women’s health and abortion in the Lone Star State.
The Michael Brown case has come to symbolize popular disillusionment with finding justice, but it's also about quality-of-life issues and resources for poor residents in places like Ferguson, a majority black suburban city where poverty is prevalent.
Southern California's Orange County has a reputation as an affluent playground, making the county's food insecurity stats all the more surprising. That kind of juxtaposition between a locale's perception and reality can make for powerful stories that grab audiences and start conversations.
A reporting trip that set out to investigate the causes behind a mysterious childhood cancer cluster turned into a valuable lesson in embracing a truer kind of complexity — not the twists and turns of a mystery novel’s plot, but the unpredictable emotions that guide real people’s lives.
When I tackled the topic of loneliness as a 2013 National Health Journalism Fellowship project, I honestly didn't think it would be hard to find people who were lonely so that I could write about the issue. I was right and wrong.
By 2012, when I started my fellowship project, several journalists -- in Philadelphia and nationally -- had written extensively about the “built environment,” food deserts and healthy food access. For my project, I looked to answer the question: “What else in a neighborhood matters to health?”
The U.S. locks up more individuals per capita than any other country in the world. We have 2.2 million people behind bars – up 500% from 30 years ago. This situation raises important questions for policy makers, and it’s a rich area for journalistic exploration.
We already knew about air pollution's link to asthma, heart disease, lung cancer, and shorter lives. But few of us have given much thought to its effect on the brain. Research in one of the most polluted places -- Mexico City -- sheds light on what might be happening in Inland Southern California.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking -- using water, sand and chemicals at high-pressure to crack shale formations and release oil and gas -- is practiced in more than 30 states. But we’re still learning about how communities may be impacted by the practice.
I had a sense that care for the undocumented took place in the shadows of the U.S. health system. How did people find care? Who provided it? Did barriers to care make them sicker? Perhaps most pressing to me as a reporter, why would any undocumented immigrant talk to me?
Four 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalists give an inside look at "Prognosis: Profits," a series about North Carolina's nonprofit hospitals, the huge sums of money they're making, and the impacts on patients.
One of the public health trends these days appears to be a focus on the built environment. Here's how I reported on the connection between improving where people live and bettering their health.
Photographer and multimedia journalist Alison Yin, a 2012 National Health Journalism Fellow, shares how she chronicled the “invisible” struggles of children with asthma through photos and audio.
Why does mental health seem to get hit so much harder by cuts than other arenas? What do these cuts look like on the ground?
Asthma is the most common cause of hospital stays for children. It can strike anyone, but has a disproportionate impact on low-income and African-American children. Katy Murphy, a 2012 National Health Journalism Fellow, shares lessons learned from her Fellowship project for the Oakland Tribune
The Affordable Care Act establishes national standards for health insurance benefits. Should the standards be different for children than for adults? Here are the lessons that 2012 National Health Journalism Fellow Elaine Korry learned during her reporting for The California Report.
With all the media coverage of health reform, there has been surprisingly little reporting about community health centers. Their story is an important one -- and can be told from anywhere in the U.S. I started with many ideas, but quickly set them aside and let the reporting dictate the stories.
Recent developments in Richmond, Va., made a story looking at how where you live affects your health a timely endeavor. Through the lens of housing projects in the city's East End, Tammie Smith explains how she reported that residents there have a lower life expectancy than other Richmonders.
Indian country is a very different world from the one most of us mainstream reporters inhabit. Here are some ways to make stories about Native Americans easier to put together and more accurate.
The tobacco industry may not have the commercial presence in the U.S. it once did, but cigarette makers remain some of the most profitable companies in the world. Ricardo Sandoval examines their lobbying and marketing tactics, particularly in the developing world, and offers reporting tips.
Minimally-regulated residential care for the elderly is a fast growing, less expensive alternative to nursing homes. Seattle Times investigative reporter Mike Berens explains how state agencies saved money by placing poor and vulnerable adults in these facilities, then ignored problems, like abuse.
Help wanted. Pay not so great. Excellent chance of injury. You’ll never see an ad like this in the classifieds, but it’s a good description for many jobs. Get tips for reporting on occupational health.
It’s not easy for journalists to undertake testing on humans, nor should it be. But there are stories and situations where it is definitely warranted. Veteran journalist Janet Wilson draws from her own reporting experience to offer tips for your own work.
Journalist Paul Kleyman, who has covered aging issues for more than 20 years, offers tips for covering aging as health reform gets underway.
Get tips for covering the brave new world of personal genomics from a genetic scientist and writer who had his own genome sequenced — then wrote a book about it.
Angelo Solis, a homeless alcoholic, racked up nearly $1 million in medical charges over three years. His case represents the immense health care costs associated with homelessness. Sarah Arnquist offers advice on how to report on this important topic.
Environmental health reporting sheds light on some of the most important decisions a person can make – about their health, their ability to have children, the health of their children, the health of their world. But first you have to get the story right.
Veteran food policy journalist Christopher Cook offers context on "food deserts" and how to identify and report on them in your community.
Like writing about abortion or animal rights, writing about vaccines inevitably raises the ire of certain readers. It is not for the timid. Journalist Amy Wallace writes about being sued by an anti-vaccine activist and offers tips for covering this controversial and emotionally-charged topic.
Two journalists offer tips for your reporting from their award-winning series on the striking gap in health and life expectancies between rich and poor neighborhoods.
Health information technology is a complex and challenging topic to cover, and it's easy to get lost in the jargon. Veteran journalist Neil Versel offers background and story ideas for covering this issue in your community as health reform rolls out.
Here's a recap of the latest developments on the health reform front, along with some helpful resources and story ideas for your community.
March 21, 2010, 10 p.m. PST
Media coverage of health care quality often hinges on a doctor's personality, rather than measured quality outcomes. Here's a quick primer for journalists looking to do better reporting.
How do you tell the stories of children or teenagers who have stigmatizing health problems without causing harm once the story is published? Laurie Udesky offers tips for reporting with sensitivity — but still getting the story.
Follow the money. That simple phrase – though never uttered by Bob Woodward’s most famous source – has propelled countless reporters to dig deeply into all manner of news stories.
And nearly four decades after Woodward and Carl B
My odyssey into the world of tuberculosis began with a simple remark by a well-connected friend in the summer of 2007: "Have you heard that the county TB clinic is overwhelmed with cases?"
When it comes to climate change, the most important impacts of the emissions from our cars, power plants and factories are likely to be broad and indirect. Global warming needs to be examined not just from the perspective of medicine, but from public health.
A "show-me-the-evidence" health journalist offers tips on covering alternative medicine without dismissing all of it out of hand.
Probably every health reporter in the country has been asked at one time or another to write a story about live organ donors. But is the obvious benefiit for the recipient really worth the risk to the living donor?
Eleven million Americans have eating disorders. Here are tips on covering this complex disease from a veteran journalist who faced the issue in her own family.
The national story of poor dental health and its implications — former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher called it a "silent epidemic" in 2000 — isn't getting the attention it deserves. Journalist Eric Eyre lays out the issues and offers tips for covering dental health in your community.
Although scientists and public health officials have long worried that an avian flu virus would spark the world's next influenza pandemic — and developed emergency plans for it — it is a mutated swine flu virus that has emerged as the bigger threat. The current swine flu outbreak, which appears to... more »
Imagine if your doctor asked your 12-year-old son to explain to you that you had just been diagnosed with cancer. Get tips and story ideas for covering medical translation, a critical service for millions of patients who don't speak English well.
With the rise in MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant infections, the few that prove dangerous or deadly invariably make headlines or lead the evening news. Because even basic reporting can stir panic each time a cluster of infections arises, here are tips on presenting these stories with... more »
Not many reporters want to write about homeless people – and not many editors want to read about them. The subject is considered too depressing, too intractable. But there are few crises that are more important to cover – right now.
Journalists have to ask hard questions about where sources get their money – and about the science they are promoting. Following the money trail can be daunting. But journalists and whistleblowers are doing just that and uncovering important connections. Here's what to look for.
Journalist Emily Schmidt had a rare opportunity to humanize the often-hidden story of domestic violence, and some of the systemic judicial problems that arise in connection with it. Here's what she learned.
Native Americans experience higher disease rates than other Americans for problems ranging from diabetes and heart ailments to mental illness and suicides, which contribute to their lower life expectancy. Get tips from a veteran journalist for covering these health issues.
It started on March 20, 2006, with what I thought was a one-shot story about the health care language gap. Two and a half years later, I am still writing follow-ups (more than 40 articles in all) about the story behind the original story — the long-hidden practice of some insurers of retroactively... more »
Obesity is visible — walk down the street and you bump into it. Diabetes, on the other hand, is silent and tragic. Here are tips for reporting on the links between them.
The best HIV/AIDS coverage goes beyond the latest statistics of how many people are infected or the publication of a new national plan. Get tips for your own HIV/AIDS reporting from a veteran science journalist.