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This month on #TWJchat, Katherine Foley, a Health and Science Reporter at Quartz, joined us to share her insights and expertise. We had a great time talking about her role and beat, changes in health journalism in the wake of coronavirus, and her methods of finding and crafting stories.
To join us on the next #TWJchat, be sure to follow us on Twitter HERE. Read below for a snapshot of our chat with Katherine:
Tell us about your role and beat at Quartz?
“My primary beat at @qz is health care—specifically age-related health. I’m fascinated by neurodegenerative disease in particular. But I’m also interested in the ways that our changing demographics across the globe are changing demands in healthcare.”
Has your role or beat changed since you started at Quartz?
“Yes absolutely. I started as a pretty general life sciences reporter on a team of two; my former colleague @AkshatRathi used to cover more physical sciences…
…But then as I grew as a reporter, I narrowed my focus. My former editor @elijahwolfson gave me the advice of picking a topic and becoming an expert on it. I chose #Alzheimers. It’s a fascinating illness that starts decades before people realize…
…And as I learned more about neurodegenerative disease, I realized how much there is to write about aging populations specifically! With #COVID19, my beat has changed a little more—but I still continue to focus on older adults.”
Talking more about stories and your beat, how do you find sources when it comes to writing articles?
“When I start researching a topic, I look to any other articles that have been written on it first. Then I do a dive into the scientific literature and see who’s doing the most work on it. My favorite sources—and stories—often come from word of mouth, though…
…Which is to say that while I’m talking to one source, I ask them who else they think I should be talking to, or what other angles I should be considering. Usually, I get recommendations for people I may not have found on my own.
That said, this app [Twitter] can be useful. I’ve also used other social media, like Instagram, and, yes, TikTok.”
How often do sources come to you?
“There can often be big gaps of time in between scientific articles being published. Occasionally, I’ll hear from scientists with an update to their work, but more often, I end up talking to people for unrelated reasons who happen to do really interesting work…
…I live in DC where there are a lot of health policy wonks and researchers. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some of them either at social gatherings (remember those?) and even through ties in my running group, @Nov_Project_DCA…
…In these casual settings, it can be easier to build up a longer-term relationship sometimes. I can get a chance to talk about my work, and they can ask questions about the ins and outs of journalism, which not all scientists are familiar with.”
If you enjoyed the #TWJChat with Katherine Foley and love getting the inside scoop from journalists on their process behind the scenes, check out our podcast series Coffee with a Journalist and listen to deep dives with reporters from outlets including Forbes, NBC News, and more. Each week, we sit down to talk about how top-tier journalists discover and craft stories, respond and manage pitches, and more!