February 02, 2017
/ by Julia Rabin
Finding a niche in the business, understanding the importance of an extensive explanation, and sifting through the constant noise of the media are all imperative skills to become a successful reporter.
In December, Kim Dixon joined The Hill to serve as the editor of the healthcare vertical on its subscription service, The Hill Extra. With a successful career and previous positions at both Politico and Reuters, Dixon holds an extraordinary amount of insight when it comes to reporting on healthcare.
Kim Dixon sat down with me this week to discuss her journalism career, the intricacies of healthcare reporting, and her advice for PR professionals.
Being on the ground floor of a new project, which is essentially a start-up, is probably what excites me the most. We are also taking a risk, and being here for a bit over a month now, there is a unique energy in our newsroom. We are the scrappy underdog!
Covering something as big as the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare — and there is of course more to healthcare than that — but that takes up a lot of the oxygen, it can be hard to sift through the noise. Separating out the politics and back-and-forth allegations from policy facts is the true challenge. We don’t want to repeat allegations that have been proven false.
Honestly, it was a bit of a fluke. There was an opening at the right time when I was starting out, and once I got going, I was hooked. I like the link between business and government, politics and policy and the fact that everyone can relate in some way. Healthcare reporting also works really well with where journalism has headed — finding niche audiences willing to pay for news.
That’s pretty broad… but I guess I’d say nothing in healthcare can be explained in a sound bite or even two sentences.
Ha! Yes! This is my favorite question. Do not pitch stories on a beat I covered five years ago; do not pitch products to a publication that doesn’t do such things (i.e. most news organizations). All of this is essentially saying “do your homework” or you won’t be taken seriously.
In any contentious situation, speaking face to face or over the phone beats email or electronic communication of some sort. This is true whether you’re dealing with sources, coworkers, bosses or whomever.
Someone needs to pay for journalism! What we are doing here — unique reporting on specialized topics — is one way of the future. But, of course, there are many ways to do it. Hopefully, the recent election cycle and the spread of fake news is teaching people that journalism costs money and new models are needed now that advertising revenue has gone out the window.
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