Health journalism - evolution and innovation in the digital age
Australian Journalism Review
Journalism Education Association
Place of Publication
School of Arts and Humanities
Health journalism meets a significant public need and influences health, but digital disruption in the news media and the migration of audiences towards new media platforms pose significant challenges to the specialisation. The earliest journalists carving out the niche for health journalism faced an uphill battle against government and medical professionals’ influence. Since then, the specialisation has grown in scope, professionalism and quality, but cuts to mainstream media staffing, new entrants to the field of health information and evidence the “news hole” for health is shrinking position health journalists in the eye of a maelstrom. Key challenges include source dependency, neglect of socio-economic drivers of ill health, a paucity of critical appraisal skills, a clash of cultures between medicine and the media, neglect of community voices, verification, and competing for audiences in the tough attention economy. In this article, we discuss current scholarship relating to these challenges and the ways health journalists are responding to them by developing experimental forms of social journalism, innovating with diversified platforms, collaborating with health professionals and using crowd-sourcing to bring neglected voices and issues to the fore.