The healthcare beat is a critical, high-profile one for The Charlotte Observer. It requires a daily presence as well as enterprise work to help our community understand and make sense of a crucial part of life that touches everyone. The reporter needs to connect with our audience on multiple levels.
The reporter on this beat must be adept at breaking news stories, cultivating sources both in the community and in the medical field, and identifying trends and issues that inform people about health care issues important to our readers.
A key component of the beat is focusing on health care disparities among various groups. That could include how women of color and other marginalized communities are being impacted by the fall of Roe v. Wade, the disparate distribution of COVID or monkeypox vaccines and how students’ mental health is faring in the wake of the latest school shooting.
Charlotte’s two major hospital systems, Atrium Health and Novant Health, are among the biggest employers in the area. Identifying workplace employment stories, in addition to patient-impact pieces, is important here. Charlotte also will be getting its first four-year medical school, along with a related “Innovation District,” from Atrium and partner groups that will impact the region for years to come. Atrium’s pending merger to become the country’s fifth biggest hospital system will have significant impacts on patients, costs and workers for years to come.
Hearing concerns from diverse groups of real people, uncovering trends, filing FOIAs and poring through public databases all are important to successful coverage of the beat. Accountability is key too, such as how Atrium’s rapid growth will play out for patient’s bills and quality of care.
A sub-beat for this reporter is transportation. This includes focusing on the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), which has been beset by numerous problems, including falling ridership, spotty service and safety issues. There also are new toll roads and constant construction on the interstates in the region. And Charlotte Douglas International Airport is one of the world’s busiest airports, a hub for American Airlines and a major local employer. A strong understanding of how transportation concerns impact the lives of everyday people, and what is being done to change what doesn’t work is important to being successful in covering this topic.
This reporter will:
Write news and enterprise stories that are clear, accurate, engaging and of high interest and relevance to local readers.
Learn to develop a broad range of sources on the beat and build strong relationships with key people to identify stories of importance and intrigue for our readers.
Be able to juggle daily, short-term enterprise and long-term enterprise stories.
Use audience metrics to determine which stories are resonating with readers and which are not. Work with editors to mine this data for takeaways about how we can build our audience.
Use judgment in determining the best digital tools for conveying news to readers in varying circumstances and formats.
Collaborate with visual journalists to develop video and still photos that help tell stories effectively.
Use social networks to seek story ideas, report in real time and connect with the community.
Education and knowledge:
College degree required.
At least two years of beat reporting experience in a daily newsroom preferred.
This reporter will need to have:
Command of grammar, spelling, Observer and AP style, as well as the ability to write clearly.
Strong news judgment.
Ability to learn both the art and science of readership and engagement.
Strong interpersonal and collaborative skills.
Comfort with a job that will be demanding, fast-paced and constantly evolving.
Ability to develop source networks on a beat.
Skill at writing well-organized news and enterprise stories.
Knowledge in use of social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Ability to learn how to obtain, sort and analyze public documents, such as property records and court records.
Commitment to accurate, ethical journalism.
Fundamental understanding of research tools.
Ability to work cordially and collaboratively with others.