Carrie is the Health Editor and a reporter for KQED. She is also a contributor to NPR and Kaiser Health News. Carrie is based in Oakland, California.
What’s your top priority at work for today?
My top priority today is writing a late-file news spot later this evening, to get a California-based reaction after Trump announces his nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy.
Tell us about your dream assignment.
I trained as an anthropologist, so I do well embedding myself in environments for a long time. In health care, where access is limited and controlled, that’s hard if not impossible. My dream assignment would be to spend days, even weeks, in a hospital ER or hospital floor, or in a palliative care clinic, or shadowing a compelling, charismatic clinician, and be allowed to go wherever that person goes. I would record hours and hours of tape and decide later what to use – as PBS documentaries do sometimes. I wouldn’t have to tell a media relations person the exact story beforehand; rather, I would write about the stories I saw as they emerged – human-based stories of suffering, courage and care. This is how reporting should be done, with integrity, instead of deciding ahead of time “the story is X or Y.” I would be trusted to do my job with integrity and with respect to patient privacy (legally and ethically) but without being constantly “handled” by the PR or media department. More like a novelist, I would have time to observe, follow-up and go deep with patients and caregivers on their full life stories and medical histories, watch scenes unfold as they happen, and take NPR listeners deep inside our health care world(s).
Describe one of the wackiest proposals/ideas you’ve been sent.
The whackiest proposal I can remember was a “4th of July” pitch to interview a doctor who specializes in bad breath, who could talk about the “Top 5 Worst BBQ Foods For Your Breath” and also use his “halimeter” to come to the radio station and test the breath of our staffers.
What is your PR/marketing pet peeve?
My pet peeve is clinical gatekeeping, particularly among PR/media/marketing staffers who don’t understand that “the media” is not a monolith and my approach and training as an NPR reporter and editor and former long-form newspaper journalist is not the same as a local TV reporter who is 23 and aggressive, and doesn’t know their HIPAA from a hippo. Doctors and their patients may (and often are) perfectly fine talking with a reporter, and yet many PR/media/marketing staffers decide preemptively what is allowable and treat all reporters similarly.
What’s a top industry trend you’re currently following or are interested in?
I’m interested in how patients cope with illness and impending death, culturally. I’m interested in the sub-cultures of doctors and nurses, and the culture of hospitals. I’m interested in the “medicalization” of almost every facet of U.S. life. I’m interested in how the legalization of marijuana will affect everything from pain treatment to how children interact with their parents.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am the Health Editor at KQED, where I supervise two health reporters and edit many freelancers. Time permitting, I do my own reporting. I grew up in the Midwest (St. Louis) and have lived in New York City, New Jersey, Texas, India, and now California. I married a photographer and we live in Oakland with our 5-year-old, Joni. Yes, after the singer. You can hear that story here by clicking the red “listen” button. I like mountains/hiking/camping and seeing as many movies as possible.
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