Perhaps more than any other subject, the health beat is ideal for solutions journalism.
Our state of health is the result of a vast, interlocking system, affected not just by medical care itself, but by developments in business, culture, environment, and economics. Every day, people are attacking health problems through all of these angles. Other places struggling with the same challenges — and that’s often everywhere — might benefit from knowing what they’ve found.
Health is a field that prizes innovation and improvement. But the main disseminators of ideas that work — academic journals — lag years behind, include only a small percentage of new ideas, and don’t reach all the people who need to know about them. Journalism, which is both more timely and geared to reach more people, can help to fill the gaps.
Health is (literally) the original home of snake oil peddled by quacks. Claims are abundant. Truth — less so. The good news: We have more data, and better data, in the health field than in any other. So we have facts about what works. With a solutions lens, journalists can dig into responses to evaluate claims and see what’s really succeeding, and what’s not — and what makes the difference.
In short, the health beat offers a myriad of fresh ideas and innovations to cover. No matter where they originate, those stories can be relevant for our own communities. We can often get data that tells us whether they are working or not. And health coverage can make a big impact by revealing promising new ideas — now, not years from now.
In this guide, we’ll explore how health journalists can use solutions journalism to strengthen their coverage, offering tips on how to find, vet and write these stories. . We'll look at some pitfalls in using data and a few data sources that are especially helpful in solutions reporting. And we’ll walk you through actual solutions stories about health — and hear from reporters and editors who are already using a solutions framework regularly in their work.