By DAVID FURONES
Unfortunately, journalists are not doctors.
Even more unfortunate is the fact that, without proper training, there will come a time in every journalist’s career where they must provide information on some sort of illness, disease, condition, injury, or medical treatment. Whether it’s disseminating information on a sickness that’s been spreading (such as the swine flu around this time last year), breaking news on a disease a popular figure has recently been diagnosed with, or an injury update on the status of a star athlete, medical terms that the average person is widely unfamiliar with are bound to come up.
WebMD offers any journalist who never quite had time to earn that prestigious medical degree in college to possess a speedy reference to all the same information. Its slogan of “Better information. Better health.” is meant to target the general public on their research for whatever condition or sickness they may have, but it can also be utilized as a resource for journalists for “healthier” reporting.
The WebMD home page displays a directory of information on several disorders down the left-hand side. Once you select the disorder of your choice, the site will first show you a quick overview of the illness, which is usually enough in itself if you’re only making a quick reference to the disorder in your story. The rest of the guide to the sickness contains symptoms, the varying types of the disorder, treatment, diagnosis, daily care, and home remedies.
Expanding on everything on the front page of the site, one can also find interesting health news and feature stories on a variety of aspects of daily living people can easily alter to improve their health. These not only offer extensive medical information but also provide some decent story ideas for any journalist struggling to find some fresh material to cover.
Another feature worth noting on the WebMD web site is their phenomenal use of multimedia in presenting all their information. Slide shows can be found throughout the web site on whatever specific item one may be viewing.
WebMD has a tremendous outreach in all their medical information. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, WebMD is the journalist’s equivalent to the apple when researching anything medical.