Patient narratives: Health journalists’ reflections, dilemmas and criticism of a compelling journalistic tool
Media stories of health and illness are omnipresent. The plethora of available health stories not only inform and educate, they invite us to engage, identify and act, thereby priming basic feelings of fear, hope, identification and a sense of justice. In recent decades, the patient narrative based on the personal experience of individual patients, has come to represent a recognizable genre across hybrid media and popular culture. Patient nar - ratives are rhetorically powerful, but the patients themselves may be in a vulnerable state and in need of particular carefulness. For the 12 health reporters and editors interviewed for this chapter, exposing individual patient stories raises different ethical challenges than using professional sources, potentially altering the balance between professional empathy, involvement and distance. The chapter illuminates the professional dilemmas, ethical considerations and critical reflections that the health reporters experience in their use of personal patient stories as cases and journalistic tools.
Figenschou, Tine Ustad