The Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) has selected Sabriya Rice, Knight Chair for Health and Medical Journalism, to its board of directors for an additional term. Rice will also serve as secretary of the board for this two-year period.
We asked Rice for more information on her selection and work with AHCJ.
Grady College: How long have you been a member of AHCJ? What does it mean to be involved for you?
Rice: “Through my employers, I had the opportunity to participate in many of AHCJ’s workshops and training sessions long before I officially became a member in 2014. My affiliation with the nonprofit has definitely made me a stronger, more cautious journalist.”
“It means a lot to be a part of a group that aims to improve the quality of journalism, particularly for those who find themselves on the massive health care beat. I definitely look back at some of the stories I wrote before being introduced to AHCJ and think to myself, ‘I’d totally approach that story differently now!’ And that is a good thing.”
GC: What drove you to run for the AHCJ board of directors? What has your experience been like?
SR: “There are two main factors that inspired me to run for the board. The first was wanting to give back in a meaningful way–by supporting the programs that helped to shape my reporting savvy, by sharing my personal insight and experiences as a member, and when possible, introducing new ideas to further our progress.”
“The second was to increase diversity among our members. The fact that there are large health disparities for people of color in the U.S. is well known. Having more representatives from those groups can help us tell those stories with nuance and empathy. We want to do this in a way that is less stigmatizing and ensures that the messages will reach the audiences most affected.”
“We have an amazing group that is not afraid to ask tough questions and take on new challenges. It’s been a rewarding experience that has helped me connect more purposefully with journalists from across the country and identify areas where AHCJ can have an additional impact.”
GC: How has your work on the board and the focus of AHCJ shifted with COVID-19?
SR: “Currently, I’m vice-chair of AHCJ’s Right to Know (RTK) committee, the advocacy arm that advocates for openness and transparency of public information. We provide resources for members striving to shed light on complex topics, and COVID-19 definitely falls into that category.”
“Nearly every journalist covered health care over the past few months, whether or not their typical beat was sports, politics, entertainment or education. One of our current RTK goals is to assess the real-time challenges journalists faced seeking public data on the spread of coronavirus.”
“We’re also curious about the deliberate sharing of bad information whether that be from public officials or trolls on social media—and how that is impacting both the quality of reporting and the workload of newsrooms.”