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Here's a look at the four broad categories of surveys globally -- what information can reporters glean from them and what limitations do they need to note.

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Tracking basic human events has an incredible downstream effect on measuring and making sense of health trends. Vital registration helps policymakers take targeted action to improve health. For example, the CDC has a National Birth Defects Prevention Study that relies partly on birth certificates.

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Even with major initiatives from such high-profile entities as the NFL and First Lady Michelle Obama pounding the message of exercising and healthy eating, childhood obesity in the U.S shows few signs of abating. Could more influential policy be the answer?

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Can vaccines be more useful for some people than for others?

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What happens in our society when whistleblowers are ignored? Should we ignore stories that cannot be conveniently packaged as "sound bite" material?

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It's the kind of thing that makes traditionalists in journalism cringe, and convinces them that technology will ruin the integrity of news. SEO is the tech acronym for "search engine optimization," ways to design websites and content that will rank highly in search results. What many journalists might not realize is that the techniques of SEO are actually not that far off from the fundamentals of hard news.

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Wendy Johnson spent five years as a reporter at newspapers in Cape Cod and then on Capitol Hill before taking the leap to the B2B (business-to-business) media world.

"It's something that I fell into accidentally," Johnson says. But she discovered that writing about one industry for a new audience of executives and others in healthcare was both "really interesting" and viable. "I could see that there was a career track here."

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Amy Wallace recently wrote about the minefield surrounding her reporting on vaccines for ReportingonHealth. Two months after her November 2009 Wired cover story "An Epidemic of Fear: One Man's Battle Against the Anti-vaccine Movement" was published, she was sued. Though the laws

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Dr. Richard J. Jackson is a professor and the chairman of environmental health sciences at UCLA's School of Public Health. Previously, he was an adjunct professor of environmental health services at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. He also served as state public health officer for the California Department of Health Services. His responsibilities included direct leadership and oversight of the department's public health-related activities.

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Anne Schuchat is assistant U.S. surgeon-general and the director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and has spent over 18 years at CDC working in immunization, respiratory, and other infectious diseases.

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