Multimedia Reporting

I’m at the Association of Health Care Journalists’ annual conference, called Health Journalism 2008, in Washington, D.C. I just met Scott Hensley from the Wall Street Journal‘s Health Blog, who is one of the panelists in this session on new media tools for telling stories. Appropriately, his presentation is going to be a blog. He set it up here free on

Other panelists include Amy Eisman, director of writing programs, American University School of Communications, and Joy Robertson, anchor/reporter, KOLR-Springfield, Mo.


Amy sees the following trends in news:

  • need more video, more pictures, better presentation
  • Better text – SEO
  • Social networking
  • More readers finding content “sideways”
  • Hyper-link off site
  • Mobility (information on mobile phones)
  • Transparency
  • Experimentation

She also said you need to think about what you can do on the web that you can’t do in print. Think interactivity, links to archives and multimedia. Covering an event for users who can’t attend, via liveblogging.

She recommended Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think” as a handbook for writing and web design.


Scott Hensley says the WSJ Health Blog has over 2,000 posts in the last year, and more than 21,000 comments. You really should check out his presentation on the blog he set up for this purpose. Here are some highlights:

Continue reading “Multimedia Reporting”

Elizabeth Edwards at Health Journalism 2008

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Democratic Presidential Candidate John Edwards, gave the keynote address at the Saturday awards luncheon at Health Journalism 2008, the annual meeting of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Elizabeth and her husband formed the Wade Edwards Foundation after he was killed in a tragic car accident. Her personal breast cancer story made lots of news, and she says that when his campaign was active she spent lots of time criticizing her husbands’ Democratic opponents. So she spent her whole a major chunk of her speech attacking Sen. McCain, apparently on the grounds that her criticisms of Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama were “old news.” How conveeeenient.

Continue reading “Elizabeth Edwards at Health Journalism 2008”

Dennis Quaid Video on Medical Errors

Here are some video highlights of Dennis Quaid’s speech about medical errors and his family’s experience at Health Journalism 2008, the 10th annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists:


I was in the back row, and there are a couple of jerky moments as my arm got tired, so I apologize if you have any fleeting moments of vertigo. Still, for SMUG students and journalists, it’s an example of what you can do fairly easily to share interesting and important information with the world. It’s not a live uStream (maybe I’ll work on that next). I’m not a trained journalist (and as you can see not a trained videographer, either), but this is a step between streaming everything and a deeper context piece. And maybe it can be a resource for real journalists to use in their reporting.

Dennis Quaid on Medical Errors

Dennis Quaid

I’m at the opening session of Health Journalism 2008, which is being kicked off by Dennis Quaid telling the story about his twins daughters receiving 1,000 times the recommended dose of Heparin.

Quaid and his wife have started a foundation to help combat medical errors. One of the measures they advocate is bedside bar-coding.

The breach of patient privacy in their case was another concern. The overdose incident happened (twice) on a Sunday, and was discovered late Monday night. When the Quaids came to the hospital early Monday they were met by risk management, and during the process of the Heparin working its way out of the system (a 41-hour process), he said blood was squirting on the walls. On Tuesday they got a call that the news was all over the gossip site TMZ, even though the Quaids hadn’t told even their close family members.

While they were in the hospital they worked for about a week and a half to get their children’s medical records, and the pages related to the time when they were being overdosed were missing from the 600 pages (300 pages for each of the twins.)

Quaid says that if he had been met with an apology instead of a risk management team, he likely would have responded much differently. One of the overdoses had happened on Sunday while the Quaids were with their twins. When he had called Sunday night to check on them, the nurse told Dennis they were “fine.”

A few months before this incident, three children in Indianapolis died of an overdose when adult Heparin was given in place of the pediatric dose. The Quaids are suing Baxter, not Cedars Sinai, though, because the product wasn’t recalled when the Indianapolis incident happened. He said he’s not interested in any settlement that involves non-disclosure; he wants to raise awareness about the problem of patient safety.

I will have some video highlights from Quaid’s presentation a bit later. It’s good that he is giving public attention to this issue. As he says, patient safety doesn’t typically make headlines because incidents happen one at a time, and not to celebrities. He is making a lot of the same points I’ve heard patient safety leaders make at Mayo Clinic. He has a megaphone that enables him to get the issue noticed, and today he spoke to a bunch of journalists who I’m sure will help with the effort.

I wonder whether bloggers will take up this patient safety issue in a big way.