Yesterday, I shared the first of two proposals I submitted to the National Association of Black Journalists 2013 meeting. Today, I share the second proposal.

Workshop: Health Science Reporting for Under-represented audiences

Track: Fundamentals


The African-American community’s relationship with the medical research community has been tenuous, long before the Tuskegee Experiments or Henrietta Lacks scandal. This mistrust of the research community plus our alarming rates of health inequities, which includes access to quality care is having a negative impact our community’s health, as well as the health of other minority communities.

One barrier to access to good care includes access to good general information about healthcare, nutrition, and medical advances. Being able to present these important issues with appropriate attention and sensitivity to target audiences is the goal of this workshop. This workshop will provide an introduction to how journalists interested in covering topics related to health science to diverse audiences. The panel will also introduce opportunities for health science journalism training and discuss job opportunities related to health science journalism.


Access to information about our health is essential for people to make informed health care decisions. Particularly for members of communities that have a history of mistrust of science and medical research in particular, it is important that people receive this information from someone they trust. Very often, science and medical research is regarded as separate and foreign to the African-American experience. This divide in communication has proven to be harmful to some of the most vulnerable citizens who are often the subjects of health disparity reports. There is a great need to engage broader audiences in deeper discourses about health education, preventative treatments, and live-saving technologies. Health science journalism aimed at under-represented audiences provides that opportunity to engage these audiences. The goal of this workshop is to cultivate a cadre of minority health science journalists that write or present from different viewpoints and angles is key providing important information to under-represented groups like African-Americans, women, and other minorities.

Slated Participants for the Panel included:

Jamila Bey - a member of NABJ and Host and Reporter for Voice of Russia Radio

Jamila Bey is a journalist based in Washington, DC, where she hosts the radio show The Sex, Politics And Religion Hour: SPAR With Jamila which airs on AM 1390 in Washington, 99.9 HD-2 in Miami and AM 1430 in New York City. She also writes for the Washington Post blog, She the People and contributes to “Up With Chris Hayes" on MSNBC. Jamila served a decade-long stint as a producer and editor at National Public Radio working for shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Tell Me More with Michel Martin, and Talk of the Nation. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The New Humanist of London, Jazz Times Magazine and WebMD as well as on The Today Show and radio stations around the country. A sought-after speaker and writer, Jamila’s areas of expertise include science, health and family policy, and all issues concerning the First Amendment. She particularly enjoys reporting on issues concerning religion and the separation of church and state. Her first book about the role of religion in the lives of African-American women is to be completed in spring 2013.

Khadijah M. Britton, JD - Founder, Executive Director of Better Bio

Khadijah M. Britton, JD is founder and Executive Director of BetterBio, a Massachusetts-registered nonprofit & fiscally sponsored project of New York 501(c)(3) Fractured Atlas that equips citizen science journalists with the tools to advocate for community health and well-being. Her main passion is the MadSciMag Initiative, BetterBio’s science journalism curriculum for inner-city teens. MadSciMag training teen reporters to design and perform experiments, analyze results and then share their stories with the world via, Huffington Post Teen and science fairs across the country. Khadijah received her JD from Boston University School of Law, and is currently three classes from finishing her Masters in Public Health at BU School of Public Health. She has blogged for Scientific American, the Boston Phoenix and New York Academy of Science, and serves as Science Communication Editor for Double X Science, a blog about science that impacts women.

I received immediate notification that it was received.

Thank you for your proposal submission, Health Science Reporting for Under-represented audiences. Your submission ID is 116. Proposals will be accepted until Wednesday, October 17, 2012.

Proposals will be reviewed based on the following criteria:

Is the topic innovative and relevant?

Is the session well organized and designed to meet the needs of this particular audience?

Are the session objectives and “takeaways” for participants clearly explained in the proposal?

I received some great feedback from individual members of the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ). I was referred to a few African-American members of AHCJ who were also members of NABJ. AHCJ does seem to host more diversity than NASW. Plus, within NABJ there seems to be some strong interests in health care news: each year NABJ hosts a Media Institute on Health: Health Policy and Health Inequities. It sounds like an excellent meeting, but I was hoping to really focus on the science part of the news - not just the policy and disparity statistics. I was hoping this proposal was different enough and complementary to what NABJ already does. Maybe not. Either way, I still find it curious that there isn't a NABJ Taskforce on Health Policy.

I was hoping this panel would pique the interests of journalists to delve more into the science and research background of health/medical news. Are there many journalists who belong to both NABJ (or UNITY Journalists) and AHCJ? Is there an interest to cultivate a relationship between these organizations? I would really like to engage NABJ or UNITY Journalists, as well as AHCJ members in this conversation. Please share your thoughts. How could I strengthen this proposal? What other professional conferences should I have proposed this to? Are there additional panel members I should have considered?