Unpublished Report: Impact evaluation of the 2007 Gnat Line News Briefing.

Opinion Research Solutions, LLC

This study used written surveys and in-depth interviews to assess the impact of the 2007 Gnat Line News Briefing, organized by Knight Chair Patricia Thomas and co-sponsored by the Association of Health Care Journalists. Morning speakers focused on covering hospital costs and quality, and the afternoon offered news briefings on stroke treatment, the impact of prison health care on communities, and how shift work disturbs circadian rhythms. The evaluation focused primarily on 17 participating Black Belt news organizations and used 15 similar print and broadcast outlets as controls.

Participants saw the conference less as a source for specific story ideas than as an event that rekindled their passion for reporting, updated their skills for analyzing hospital finance and quality stories, and validated the importance of their work. This is reflected in their desire for more journalists than health experts on future conference agendas, and for a schedule that provides more opportunities for journalists to process complex information with each other and with the experts. It is equally apparent that networking with each other as well as the expert guests was important and valued.

Content analysis of eight weeks of pre-event and eight weeks of post-event health coverage by participating and control organizations found no significant difference in the number or type of health stories in the two groups. But participants felt that the workshop helped them write better stories, according to post-workshop evaluations and interviews.

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