June 03, 2010
/ by Anna Marevska
Imagine a little girl and her friend typing up a pretend newspaper featuring the breaking news that Winnie the Pooh had to flee his burning abode. This little girl, who always loved to write, is all grown up now writing for none other than The Wall Street Journal. Her name is Katherine Hobson and she is the new health and medicine reporter for the journal and lead writer for its Health Blog.
“I feel very lucky to have moved into the job at a time when the fields of health and health business, more than ever, are producing huge news stories,” she said. “I have a great opportunity to see what’s going on in the healthcare world in real time, as news breaks, and put it in context with extra information within a pretty short period of time.”
Hobson joined the staff in April and her primary responsibility is leading the Health Blog, which offers news and analysis on health and the business of health. Hobson plans to add to its journalistic momentum and further develop its voice.
“The Health Blog has a fabulous three-year tradition and my goal is to build on that tradition, while being open to the opportunities of the changing medium,” she said. “To me, the most exciting part of a blog is that it really is a work-in-progress by its very nature.”
Covering health – “an endlessly fascinating topic,” according to Hobson – is even more efficient thanks to social media, a communication tool she fully embraces.
“Social media is changing everything,” she said. “I find Twitter particularly an extremely effective way to get story ideas, connect with sources, network and share information with colleagues and get my stories a wider audience.”
No doubt the Princeton graduate is an excellent steward of the blog, bringing 15 years of experience to her position. Prior to joining The Wall Street Journal, she spent nine years at U.S. News and World Report, where she covered the health beat since 2002. The transition has been easy.
She explained, “It would have been a big adjustment were U.S. News still a weekly newsmagazine, but for the past several years I’d been writing so much for the Web that the medium really isn’t new to me. Blog posts are shorter, tighter and have a different tone than longer stories, but the core – quality journalism – is the same.”
Throughout the years, she has covered cancer, nutrition, exercise science, the U.S. economy and the U.K. beer industry for outlets such as Bloomberg News and TheStreet.com. Every job has made her a better journalist.
“Bloomberg taught me speed, clarity and what business news was all about,” she said. “TheStreet.com helped me start to develop my voice a little more. U.S. News gave me long-form experience and was generous enough to let me make the jump to covering health despite having no experience in the field.”
Luckily, the little girl who created her own newspaper and covered the Winnie the Pooh beat, grew up and became a journalist. She never felt wedded to any particular media medium. She has written for a wire service, an online-only publication, a newsmagazine that expanded into the online world, and now a place with a presence in pretty much every corner of the media world.
“It’s all good, as long as I can report and write,” she said.
Hobson writes about all aspects of health – policy, business, technology, scientific research, medical practice. She looks for news that resonates with a health-interested audience, new or quirky angles on big stories, and water cooler stories that everyone will talk about.
“I don’t think it’s a secret that journalists prefer short, to-the-point, clearly written pitches that show the PR pro is familiar with the publication,” she said. “Please, do read the blog before pitching to get a sense of what topics we cover.”
The best way to pitch Hobson is by e-mail. Send queries to her individual e-mail address or at Healthblog@wsj.com.
“I do read all of them, even if I don’t have time to respond to everything,” she added. “It’s not necessary to seek follow-up via email or phone.”
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