Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Health News Stories Score Big with All Kinds of Readers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Health News Stories Score Big with All Kinds of Readers

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Clark, Times-Union Reader Advocate

The importance of health news, even the smallest stories, was dramatized last week by two readers.

A woman had read a brief item about an experimental vaccine being tried on patients with urinary tract infections. Her daughter has had so many infections that permanent damage is a possibility. The mother wanted more information on the experiment. Could we help? Yes, we found information on that test and e-mailed that information and Web site contacts to her. Now the reader has information to bring to her doctor and will try to get her daughter involved in the vaccine studies.

A man whose father is suffering from lung cancer read an April 9 Associated Press story on combating weight loss during radiation and chemotherapy. Serious weight loss makes survival more difficult. One of the solutions mentioned for patients having trouble swallowing was mashed potatoes with gravy. He went right out and served it to his father suffering from lung cancer. It worked.

Those stories were based on two small wire service stories. Yet, they affected two lives.

I am convinced that a Health section could be justified every day of the week. It may look like a radical idea to newspaper executives, but it would make worlds of sense to readers like the two I just mentioned.

LISTS ARE IMPORTANT

One of the great strengths of a newspaper is organizing large amounts of facts and information in an easy-to-read format. A few examples:

-- The full-page breakdown of college football recruits the first day of the draft, April 20. Readers didn't need much more than that to follow the first day's events. It required a great amount of detail work by the Sports staff.

-- The Sunday Lifestyle section list of summer camps. Readers have been requesting this information for weeks. …

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