Live Blogging about Health

This weekend, I’m live blogging the first seminar for California Broadcast Fellows at the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships program at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communications.

That’s a lot of names, isn’t it?

It’s actually fitting; one of the biggest challenges of broadcast journalism is to take complex topics and tell compelling and often very short stories about them. You can read my posts on The Fellowship Blog at Reporting on Health, and see my tweets at @ReportingHealth. Here’s the first post:

Examining the Craft: Seminar on Broadcast Health Reporting Begins Today

In a world of sound bites, 140-character reports and information overdose on the Internet, news about health often doesn’t get all the airtime it deserves. The first session of a seminar for broadcast journalists will look at ways television, radio and multimedia journalists can boost coverage and depth in their reports.

Tonight’s keynote speech by NBC’s Robert Bazell asks the question, “Is it Possible to Cover Complex Medical Topics in Two Minutes or Less?” Through the weekend, California Broadcast Fellows will examine social media and digital resources, health reform and the black market, and what it takes to get depth of coverage in a media marketplace that demands that writers be editors and producers all at once.

Michelle Levander, director of the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, says that the pressures of being in a newsroom and on deadline make it difficult for journalists to feel that they are doing their best work. Specialty topics like health often take a hit when time and resources are short. The broadcast track of the fellowship program began last year to address the particular issues of working with sound and images on tight deadlines. Broadcast journalists have to tell compelling stories and need simple ways to cover complex topics, explains Levander. It’s a tough job, especially now that the business of journalism is in such dire straits.

“In a time of cutbacks and uncertainties, one of the things that helps journalists not become demoralized is a sense of community,” Levander says. “You can’t underestimate the value of exchanges that happen in seminars like this.”

You can join the conversation online throughout the weekend by commenting on posts. I’ll be twittering at ReportingHealth; reply or tweet using the hashtag #cabroadcasthealth. You can also email your comments to me at angshah@gmail.com and I’ll include them in my live blog throughout the weekend.

This Week: Follow-ups to terrorist attacks in India and the earthquake in China, perspectives on Iraq and North Korea

I’m starting a weekly post that rehashes some of the most interesting and unusual reports on Asia (in English) and the world. Let me know what you think, and if you find this kind of feature useful. For more interesting things on the web, from newspapers and blogs, see my shared stories page.

First, two Saturday features by two great reporters. Babara Demick for the Los Angeles Times writes a follow-up to stories about the Sichuan earthquake last May. Families there are still waiting for the official death toll and results of DNA testing to confirm the identities of the victims: China quake survivors still wait for word.

Emily Wax in South Asia for the Washington Post writes about discrimination against Muslims in Mumbai following the terror attacks last year: Muslims Find Bias Growing In Mumbai’s Rental Market.

And two from the BBC: First, a piece featuring the voices of American female soldiers serving in Iraq: Women at war face sexual violence. Army specialist Mickiela Montoya and others are explicit about the treatment of women in the army. She says:

A lot of the men didn’t want us there. One guy told me the military sends women soldiers over to give the guys eye-candy to keep them sane.

He told me in Vietnam they had prostitutes, but they don’t have those in Iraq, so they have women soldiers instead.

The BBC also ran this week an article that is quickly making the rounds on the web: Iraqi gay men face ‘lives of hell’.

And one more, from the Christian Science Monitor: American journalists could be bargaining chips for North Korea. It’s a well-reported piece that complicates the story of the two Current TV journalists who have be held by Pyongyang for a month.