Localizing Health Policy


Kofi Baafi

The way this campaign works is that we would pass a bill that would make it so that teens could get the required sleep they need. The bill would eliminate homework, and making longer school days, and making class start a hour later so that when teens get to school they can eat breakfast and relax before class starts.

The problems that we faced was working with the audio, and uploading it to the site. We had trouble because the audio needed to be a youtube video, but we kept on working and figured it out. We came up with this idea because teen sleep is a big problem all over the untied states and it has affected kids all over and caused high drop out rates and other issues like being unsucessful, so making a campaign would help alot.


Kofi Baafi


Kofi Baafi


Kofi Baafi


Christian Hector

Parents and Students in Seattle have been pushing towards the goal of changing the start times of certain public schools for multiple reasons. First off, the commute for many students was a hassle. Many students had to wake up much earlier than necessary just to get to school on time. A Seattle public school parent who had been interviewed by John Higgins, a Seattle Times education editor said that her child had to wake up at 5:30 for an 8 a.m. start time.

According to the sleep experts at the sleep foundation,  “Teens are among those least likely to get enough sleep; while they need on average 9 1/4 hours of sleep per night for optimal performance, health and brain development, teens average fewer than 7 hours per night...”

Teen sleep has been a study that has been going on for some time now. We are finally coming to the results that teens need more sleep than they are actually receiving. With all of the extracurricular activities, homework, social events and everything in between, it is really hard for us teens to get the sleep that we actually need. Homework

Obviously it is very important to get a good nights sleep but now we know how serious the effects of being sleep deprived for too long actually are. Now, more and more studies are revealing how being sleep deprived for too long can seriously screw up your sleeping pattern, cause in more fatigue, mood swings, and more importantly, a noticeable decline in students effort and work.


Background Research + Sources Assignment

Faiza Hassan


Hope you are all enjoying your snowday/day off!

Today, I expect you all to take some time out your day and do some work on your project. I expect for all of you to do some background research as well as as brainstorm the sources for your project.

  • Complete background research on your topic
    • I'm looking for specific references to actual policy (be it Federal, State or Local)
    • Statistics and primary sources
  • List of Sources (includes those affected by policies, list of experts)
    • I expect a list of 3 people you will be interviewing. Send along the contact information for those sources and explain why you would be interviewing them

We will presenting your findings in the morning, however I expect that you leave a comment under this discussion with your work! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Leave me a comment with your questions!

Stay warm,


BARS: Group Uno

Mariamawit Loulseged

Whether you're facing hourly, daily or monthly deadlines, it's nice to get some inspiration from some excellent health journalists and the people who edit them.

For that inspiration, I turned off my laptop and opened an actual book: The New York Times Reader: Health and Medicine (CQ Press, 2010). This recently-published paperback, an annotated anthology of work by the New York Times' health and medical writers, is aimed at journalism students, but professionals at all levels can learn from it too.

Anthology editor Dr. Tom Linden, director of the medical and science journalism program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, focuses on covering medicine and health rather than health policy, calling the latter the province of political reporters. That seems to me to be an unnecessarily narrow viewpoint. Denise Grady, for example, whose work is featured in the book, has written plenty of policy-oriented stories on health reform and H1N1/swine flu, among other topics. Still, the book's interviews with some of the nation's leading health journalists, and annotated examples of their work, provides worthwhile reading.  

Here are five lessons I drew from the book:                                                                             

1. Know your stats. Tara Parker-Pope, who writes the New York Times' Well blog, wants to avoid scaring her readers unnecessarily, so she pays very close attention to reporting statistics accurately and completely. "The most important thing any health writer could do is to compare relative risk to absolute risk," she says in an interview in the book. "If what you're saying is going to frighten people, then you need to be absolutely certain that you explain to them what it means to them as an individual." (For more information about reporting on absolute and relative risk, see this post by Antidote blogger William Heisel.)

2. Beware "the tyranny of the anecdote." New York Times Gina Kolata, who is interviewed in the book, says "they can be so, so, so powerful they can make a story come alive, but you've got to make sure that they don't become the story, because an anecdote is not a story. I think of it like an illustration." In her 2009 story, "Advances Elusive in the Drive to Cure Cancer," Kolata chose to begin with a short history lesson rather than a patient anecdote to avoid an emotional reaction that would lead readers away from her main point.

3. Study history. Nothing provides context for current health or medical news like a bit of historical analysis. "Medical history is strewn with well-intended treatments that rose and then fell when someone finally had the backbone to test them," wrote Denise Grady in a story about the limits of cardiac stents , before diving into examples of those treatments.

4. Follow up on your big stories. Sometimes the biggest impact comes not from the initial scoop but follow-up stories days, months or years later. Linden highlights a great example of this kind of follow up with Barry Meier's 2009 coverage following Barnaby J. Feder's (no relation) 2007 story on Medtronic's halt to sales of its Sprint Fidelis lead used in implanted heart devices.

5. "No research occurs in a vacuum." New York Times medical editor Barbara Straugh emphasizes that in medical research stories, reporters must also include context about the funders and researchers involved. "The more we can tell readers about how a certain finding arose, the better. If a study finds a drug works, but the research was largely paid for by the drug company that makes the drug, a reader deserves to know that. If a researcher, however famous, decides to make speeches for and take money from the company that produces a specific drug, we  should tell our readers that too."


Write your own Rap! Activity

Faiza Hassan

Student Contest--Write a Rap



  • Pick a story that interests you from one of the NYT sections
  • The rap should be original and must not include profanity or vulgar language
  • The rap should be 16-18 lines
  • It’s fine to focus on a smaller topic found within a section in The Times. For example, you can write a rap based on just the government shutdown rather than the whole range of national or political news this year. Or, you might focus on 2013 movies rather than covering other news from the Arts section. But you should also feel free to include as many, and as wide a range, of news stories from a particular section as you like
  • Example 1
  • Example 2
  • Rubric
  • How to create your rap guide