Association of Healthcare Journalists Conference

In efforts to educate the public about the news around them, journalists must first educate themselves. Don’t kid yourselves, we don’t just regurgitate what’s thrown around Washington, or the water cooler for that matter, bureaucrats, party mouthpieces… In fact, many of the issues that affect our listening / reading public send us into a tailspin, scratching our heads, and, sometimes, God forbid, even trying to do math. That’s when we stop, reassess, absorb and research. And, do what we do best: ask a lot of questions.

One way to better report current events is to attend conferences. And that’s what I’m doing this week. I’m at the Hyatt in Chicago for the annual Association of Healthcare Journalists Conference, where I’ve picked out a full load of seminars and workshops that I — and my bosses — believe will give us greater insight on how to navigate this Grendel of a topic that affects each and every American … every human … HEALTHCARE.

Today, and over the course of the next three, I’ll be hearing about everything from how to quantify data and medical studies, turning them into consumable information that you can actually understand, and hopefully, use, to the trends in obstetrics and C-section rates. Oh, and healthcare reform. Talk about a tailspin.

Today’s keynote speakers were the Director of the Centers for Disease Control, Thomas Frieden, who talked about the newest report on smoking statistics, state-by-state (Missouri ranks at the bottom of the bottom, BTW), and former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s Health Secretary, who talked about (drumroll, please), healthcare reform. Her concern seems to be in line with those of us who do the news: How do we get the RIGHT information out to the American public?

I’m in the process of gathering audio from both and will have it posted soon, and in the meantime, I’ll be getting more and more good stuff to pass on.

In addition to keeping an eye on this blog, you can follow my tweets from the conference. Some 250 of my peers are also note-taking, recording and Twittering away. The conference hashtag is #ahcj2010.

Anything you’re dying to find out about (bad cliche, I know) about healthcare? I’ll try to find out. Text me your questions to 573.680.7117, or e-mail them to jmachetta@missourinet.com with “healthcare” in the subject line.

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