Chat 123 Summary: How Do Social Media Influence Health Care Journalism?

April 18, 2013
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Edited by Colleen Young 

 

Edited by Colleen Young 

 

eHealth Twitter chatOn Wednesday April 10th, @kgrindrod moderated our discussion on the relationship between journalism and social media. As an introduction to the subject Kelly offered a research article by @JulieLeaskMedia coverage of health issue and how to work more effectively with journalists: a qualitative study” and blog post by @cdnormanThe Importance of Journalism to Public Health: 10 Years After SARS How Are We Doing?” This chat welcomed many points of view from people of diverse backgrounds and professions.

Early in the discussion we realized the need to define “journalist.” For the parameters of this chat, we were referring to the professionally trained journalists who are paid for their writing. Some people on the chat consider bloggers to be journalists. For the remainder of the chat we agreed that we were talking about journalists writing for main stream media or traditional media, and referred to bloggers as citizen journalists.

T1: Media coverage of health issues: How can we help journalists report on health via social media?

Healthcare organizations and researchers rely on main stream media to help them communicate their news, events and research. @SignalsBlog directed us to this articleWhy the pen is sometimes mightier than the pipette” underlining that being published in traditional media can increase the rate of academic research citations. Social media can be used by journalists to reach healthcare organizations and vice versa. But one thing is sure – both parties have to build a trusting relationship to work well together. Social media can help to build such relationships, giving space for each side to get to know each other. Through social media we can identify our respective areas of specialty and learn to work together within each others’ realities (e.g., deadlines, internal approval processes, etc.).

Healthcare organizations can help journalists by providing them with interesting topic ideas, relevant information, experts to be interviewed, images, testimonials, etc. Journalists also mentioned that people sometimes reached them via social media with story ideas and that social media can be helpful for them to find different points of views.

According to some hcsmca-ers, the journalist-healthcare organization relationship has to be built before we need journalists – this collaboration requires anticipation. Twitter can help find people and build such relationships.

Hcsmca-ers pointed out that jargon can sometimes interfere with effective collaboration. Indeed, for journalists, especially for non-health/medicine journalists, it can be hard to understand medical jargon. To avoid misinterpretation, healthcare organizations and researchers should provide concise, clear, plain language material to journalists, particularly because traditional media timelines do not always allow for review of the article before it is published.

T2: How do health journalists use social media to research stories and to disseminate them?

Health journalists use social media as a source of information. But hcsmca-ers questioned whether people using social media were largely talking into an echo chamber. Perhaps and for that reason journalists would never use social media as their sole source of information. However, listening via social media may help them find new perspectives that they may otherwise not be aware of and help them connect with subject matter experts or thought leaders. Several hcsmca-ers mentioned they had been contacted through Twitter to provide context for media stories.

Traditional media is also one way for patients to tell their stories. Some hcsmca-ers pointed out that patient stories may not always be used for the patients’ benefit. Is social media helping to change this?

For the complete discussion, you can read the transcript.

Where do traditional media and social media intersect for you?

(image: social media healthcare / shutterstock)