When the Crikey Health and Medical Panel was established in 2007 (as outlined in this article in the Medical Journal of Australia), its aims included:
- developing a mechanism for encouraging greater breadth and depth of public debate about health issues;
- encouraging and facilitating public health advocates to engage in public debate;
- and influencing media reporting of health issues.
As time has passed, the role of the CHAMPs and Croakey has evolved. The focus now is not so much on influencing mainstream media coverage but on servicing Croakey’s own readership.
One of the many things I’ve learnt along the way is that there is a thirst for news and information about topics that traditionally have struggled for attention from the mainstream media – such as the social determinants of health, equity-related concerns and under-served areas and issues, such as Indigenous health.
This is one of the advantages of the new media environment, which enables and fosters the development of so-called niche audiences or communities of interest.
Croakey’s initial interest in media coverage of health has also evolved to reflect the changing media environment, and regular readers will know that developments in social media and health are often covered here.
New faces at Croakey
The good news is that the number of readers and contributors seeking to engage with Croakey has been increasing steadily. My Twitter addiction has also helped to drive a wider engagement with the blog and to extend its reach globally.
But it’s become an increasing struggle for me to sustain Croakey, particularly given that I have many other commitments, and have also recently begun a three-year research/book project.
She is in the Croakey chair next week.
And in other happy news, Mark Metherell, a well known health journalist who recently left Fairfax after many years of covering the health beat, has agreed to help out when his freelancing schedule permits.
Many thanks also to The Conversation’s health and medical editors, Fronscesca Jackson-Webb and Reema Rattan, who have kindly agreed to help out by uploading selected articles from TC direct to Croakey.
But more helpers needed
A few Croakey projects are languishing, and I’m keen to hear from anyone who might be interested in helping to update:
• The Crikey Register of Influence, which documents links between industry and key opinion leaders in health and medicine. I have collected dozens more entries to be added to the register, and am keen to hear from researchers, journalists, students or others who might be interested in engaging with this project, which could also be used to generate some journalistic or academic investigations.
• The Croakey Register of Unreleased Documents is also in dire need of an update. It was first launched in April 2009 with the goal of recording “the details of evaluations, plans, reviews and other such documents that should be released (whether by governments or other commissioning bodies), in the interests of promoting better informed policy, practice and debate”. Again, this could be a useful project for researchers, journalists, students etc, and could also be used to generate some journalistic or academic investigations.
Acknowledgement and declaration re funding
As outlined here, Croakey is an unusual, hybrid venture – sitting on a commercial media website, operating with a not-for-profit ethos and relying on the goodwill of contributors, and receiving some funding from a consortium of public interest-minded groups, organised by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).
The members of the current funding consortium, which is scheduled to continue until the end of February 2013, are:
- Public Health Association of Australia
- Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA)
- Australasian College of Health Service Management (ACHSM)
- Australian Health Care Reform Alliance (AHCRA)
- Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association (AHHA)
- UNSW Research Centre for Primary Health Care & Equity
- National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA)
The Public Health Association of Australia acts as the funds pooling and management body, and Melissa Sweet invoices the PHAA each month ($1,600 inc GST).
As part of a commitment to editorial independence, all members of the consortium have signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating they shall have no say over Croakey’s editorial direction or content. Further details about conflicts of interest are available here.
As you may realise, Croakey operates under funding and time constraints.
We do the best we can with limited resources – often posts are simply aiming to link readers into useful sources/resources rather than to provide comprehensive analysis or reporting.
If you’re interested in supporting Croakey’s continued evolution and development, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.