Medical Journalism Guide.. Al Jazeera Institute releases the first Arab reference specializing in health journalism

The book “Medical Journalism Guide” was recently published by Al Jazeera Media Institute, making it the first Arab reference specializing in health journalism and preparing medical content.

The book was written by our colleague, Dr. Osama Abu al-Rab, medical affairs editor at Al Jazeera Network, and is his eighth book. It can be viewed and downloaded in its electronic version through the Al Jazeera Media Institute website.

Dr. Osama Abu Al-Rab
Colleague Dr. Osama Abu Al-Rab, editor of medical affairs at Al Jazeera Network (Al Jazeera)

This guide comes in 6 chapters divided into approximately 35 subheadings, exploring all aspects of medical and health journalism, including practical advice and practical examples from journalistic content published on Al Jazeera and documented medical research references.

The book begins in the first chapter by defining medical journalism, what distinguishes it, what it has in common and how it differs from other journalism specialties. It also refutes misconceptions about medical journalism.

The first chapter also addresses the confidentiality of medical journalism and the specialties of a medical journalist.

The second chapter deals with audience analysis and criteria for selecting medical news, how to understand the needs of the audience and the purpose of writing or creating content, criteria for selecting news and the caveats that should be heeded.

The third chapter of the Medical Journalism Guide deals with instructions on verifying the authenticity of medical information, ensuring accurate coverage and verifying information spread on digital platforms.

In the fourth chapter, the guide dives into several journalism templates of medical journalism, between news, report, article, knowledge card, “Question and Answer” template and recommendation, applied examples, television reports. And video from Al Jazeera.

The fifth chapter deals with medical and scientific journals, publications, studies, and reviews, which are considered the primary sources for the medical journalism story. He explains the concepts of degree of credibility of a journal and degree of evidence in a study, providing a list of the most prominent journals and a group of reliable websites that provide medical content.

The chapter also provides medical journalists with tools to identify and detect predatory journals, which are untrustworthy journals that publish studies without verifying their credibility in exchange for financial compensation.

On the topic “Degrees of Evidence in Studies”, this chapter highlights studies and types of evidence, including case reports, case-control studies, cohort studies, controlled trials, evidence-in-practice studies, systematic reviews, meta-analysis, etc. analysis, and what a medical journalist should tell the observer or reader or viewer when his or her story is based on any of the previous sources.

Chapter Six explains how clinical studies on new drugs and vaccines are conducted, exploring the subject of pre-clinical studies and clinical trials, their stages, and what Meaning that a treatment or vaccine has passed a certain stage of these trials.

Development of medicine and journalism

Abu al-Rab said – in exclusive statements given to Al Jazeera Net – that humanity is living in an era of medical and cognitive advances that it has not seen since the beginning of history, which is reflected in increases and improvements in life expectancy. People's quality of life as a result of vaccinations, antibiotics, diagnostic tools, surgical advances, and others.

In a parallel line, the press and the news industry developed – starting with the printed newspaper, passing to radio and television, and up to the moment – to social networking sites, which have played an important role in modern journalism. This development brings immense potential in delivering accurate medical information to the public that helps them make choices that positively impact their health.

Abu al-Rab says this comes with a danger, which is the potential for false information to spread, which could turn into an epidemic that could put people's health at risk. Correct medical information always means the difference between health and disease, and often the difference between life and death. We have the greatest evidence of the COVID-19 pandemic as misconceptions that have led some people to avoid following medical recommendations regarding social distancing, masks, and vaccines, and many have paid the price of their lives for these misconceptions. Has paid.

Therefore, considering the importance of medical journalism, this guide was issued.

Abu Al-Rab adds that, on the other hand, the guide provides doctors with a clear picture of the journalistic approach and its nature, helping doctors understand what the journalist is seeking, and thus guide their Prepare medical messages in an easy and clear manner. The way it benefits the journalist and its audience and reaches people clearly means that society reacts to it and improves the health of its members.

Journalists and doctors need this guide in our time of information flow.

Abu Al-Rab says, “The Medical Journalism Guide is the first book on this topic in the Arab Library, and it is an honor for me to publish it through Al Jazeera Media Institute, one of the most prominent media institutions in the world. “

Abu Al-Rab affirms that through medical journalism, people's lives change for the better, and through the efforts of a medical journalist who reads the “Medical Journalism Guide” and applies what is in it, he or she can can be saved from being deceived by false information, and his life can be saved.

Abu Al-Rab concluded by saying, “A medical journalist saves people's lives, just like a doctor does. This is the goal of the Medical Journalism Guide: to save lives.”

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