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Putting together good stories that communicate exactly what the writer intends to put across especially in the area of health can be tricky.

The writer must learn to “say what he means and mean what he says”

There are several reasons why health writing can be challenging. Among the many reasons are:

Firstly because many are not abreast with the appropriate meanings of most of the terms they hear.

Secondly, most journalists don’t know where to go for what information.

Lastly, there are several barriers to accurate information on health issues.

In Ghana, the kind of news that easily sells is Politics, secondly sports.

This makes it unattractive for journalists to venture into the area of health reporting in the first place.

In this piece, an attempt is being made to guide the journalist on how to pitch stories.

 

The Hypothesis

  • This is a premise on which an assumption is made.
  • It takes into account best information at your disposal
  • It must contain additional factual assertions that can be verified and documented
  • This can be formulated in three sentences or less and should be framed into a story.
  • Questions to ask when formulating a hypothesis include

What’s the news in there?

What’s the problem?

What is the effect of the problem and or what must change?

Why hypothesis?

It helps you to define the questions you need to answer to prove your story.

It gives you something to attempt to verify instead of sending you on a wild goose chase.

  • It makes you look for specifics
  • It drives your investigation to specifics

EXAMPLE

Teenage pregnancies in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana continues to increase. The youth are the demographic dividend of the country, if they continue to get pregnant this way, the country’s future is in jeopardy, but what must be leading to the increase teenage pregnancies?

It must be due to lack of information, poverty, and poor public education.

The Ghana Health Service says more adolescents in Ghana continue get pregnant at young ages.

Building the Hypothesis

1- Define the terms

  • Adolescents and Teenage
  • Poverty
  • Lack of public education and information
  1. Develop questions

Questions to ask

  • Levels of Poverty
  • Who are the most affected
  • Causes of the poverty
  • What other situations is poverty creating?
  • What is the region’s contribution to GDP?
  • What is the level of investment in the area?

Questions to ask

  • What are the interventions being made?
  • Who is responsible?
  • How much money is involved?
  • Is it reaching its target?
  • Are they working?
  • Which category of adolescents are benefitting more and who are benefitting less and who are not benefitting at all and why?
  • Which category among the population would help empower the rest to cut down on the numbers?

 

Sources:

Define your sources

Open Sources

  • Internet search engines
  • Family Planning Unit of MOH and GHS, GAC, WHO, UNAIDS, IAS publications
  • Published articles – news reports
  • Developments indices
  • Health and Population Reports

Primary Sources

  • The journalist’s own observations in the field and photo documentations
  • Individuals living in the communities obviously affected by teenage pregnancies
  • Government officials
  • CSOs working in the area
  • Health and Medical professionals

Primary but perhaps closed sources

  • Officials directly managing funds/projects
  • Internal district health directorate reports/statistics
  • Staff of health and Family Planning projects
  • Beneficiaries of Family Planning projects
  • Records of activity

Lastly, what can be done to decrease the trend of teenage pregnancies?

These questions should be answered in sequence and properly arranged.

By the time the Journalist is done, a great story would have been put together.