Astute readers of Crikey may have noticed an increase in the volume and range of contributors writing about health matters over the past year or more.
This is no coincidence, but the result of some determined effort via an informal collaboration between public health advocate Simon Chapman, journalists Ray Moynihan and myself, and the Crikey mob.
Simon, Ray and I approached Crikey in early 2007 with a proposal to establish the Crikey Health and Medical Panel (CHAMP) as a mechanism for generating articles for the bulletin.
CHAMP now has more than 130 members, who contribute articles and tips to Crikey, as well as to this blog.
Our goal, in approaching Crikey, was to develop a mechanism for encouraging a deeper and broader public debate about health issues, to facilitate public health advocates engaging in public debate, and to encourage media reporting to delve beyond the usual fare of medical breakthroughs and hospital crises.
Our interests in critiquing media coverage of health matched Crikey’s core business of providing independent critique of the media industry.
As the project has evolved, it’s also become an example of how new media offers opportunities for journalists to develop fresh ways of interacting with our sources and audiences.
We recently outed the project with an article in the 16 February issue of the Medical Journal of Australia. You can see the abstract for free online, but have to pay to access the full article. I’m happy to supply copies to interested readers.
The project is driven by the values of both public health and journalism. These may conflict at times, but hopefully are united by an underlying belief in the importance of frank and informed public debate. A nice principle but it takes quite a bit of work to achieve.