While it didn’t really get scribbled on a cocktail napkin, it was at a hotel bar in Crystal City that two former journalists came up with a plan to help reporters tell better and more informed health and medicine stories.
I was one of those former journalists. The other was Robert Logan, Ph.D., now a communications research scientist at the National Library of Medicine. We were both attending the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) conference at the Doubletree Hotel outside of Washington, DC. It was, in fact, at that bar when my big idea found a collaborator in Rob to make it happen – being at an AHCJ conference just sped the concept along.
I’m talking, of course, about the Journalism Fellowship program at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in conjunction with AHCJ.
Ogilvy helped establish and launch the Fellowship at NLM last year. We were strategically positioned to help create the Fellowship since we work with many of the Institutes there and I have a ten year history of working for or with AHCJ. We understand and are sensitive to the needs of this journalistic organization and its members.
This year we passed the reins to Rob and his staff to fully execute. But Rob still invited me and my colleague, Ashley Duncan – who was integral to making the first year of the Fellowship a huge success – to the Fellows’ special dinner with the NLM Board of Regents during their four days on the National Institutes of Health Campus.
I met and chatted with them and they all said they were enjoying the Fellowship experience.
And why shouldn’t they?
While there, they learn about the incredible resources available to them at the NLM and get to meet some of the “newsmakers” at the other Institutes. In the end, the reporters return to their newsrooms with new research tools, valuable contacts, engaging story ideas and a deeper understanding of the world’s premiere medical research agency.
And while we’re not directly involved with the Fellowship anymore, I am proud that Ogilvy was able to orchestrate its creation and find another way to help journalists tell engaging, informative and perhaps behavior changing stories.
This year’s Fellows included:
KARLA GALE – medical journalist at Reuters Health, an online news service for physicians. She covers everything from neurology to orthopedics, from heart disease and cancer to well baby care. Her coverage includes clinical trial results, practice guidelines, and new scientific findings. She has worked for Reuters Health for 10 years, writing four-five news articles per day.
JAMIE KOPF HIRSH – associate health editor at Consumer Reports, Consumer Reports on Health, and most recently, ShopSmart (a newer publication of Consumer Reports launched in 2006 and geared toward a younger, primarily female audience). Among the topics Hirsh covers most frequently are mental health, drug marketing (especially direct-to-consumer drug advertising), nutrition, and fitness. She also reports regularly on Consumer Reports’ tests of health and personal-care products, including sunscreen, vitamins, anti-aging skin products, and exercise equipment, and collaborates with the Consumer Reports National Research Center on surveys of consumers’ experiences with various health-related services.
SALLY JAMES – freelance journalist writing about medicine and health for more than a decade. Her stories, mostly in magazines, include consumer-driven columns for Seattle Magazine and ParentMap, as well as longer examinations of biotechnology and immunology around cancer for Seattle Business Magazine. She was a copy editor at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and then became a freelancer. She has been both reporter and editor, and as a volunteer helps program science for the public events for the Seattle Public Library.
SANDRA JORDAN – health journalist for the St. Louis American. She develops positive people-oriented health stories to help increase literacy on health issues prevalent in the African American community in “Your Health Matters,” published twice monthly in the St. Louis American newspaper. She also contributes to the weekly newspaper.
HIRAN RATNAYAKE – health care reporter at The Delaware News Journal. He has been working as a journalist for 10 years and has been on the health care beat for nine years. He has a Master of Arts in health journalism from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Pennsylvania State University.
MIRIAM TUCKER - a senior writer for Elsevier’s International Medical News Group. Her reporting specialty areas are: diabetes, vaccines, infectious disease, pediatrics, geriatrics, public health, psychology, and behavioral medicine. Diabetes is both Tucker’s personal and professional passion. She lived with type 1 diabetes since 1973, and wrote her first scholarly report on the subject in 1977 at age 12. In addition to diabetes, Tucker covers a wide range of other medical topics as a senior writer for Elsevier Global Medical News/International Medical News Group. She also does occasional freelance reporting on diabetes and other health issues as well as personal essays.