A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

SDX Awards: Online, public service, New Jersey Public TV and Radio

By Quill

NJN Public Television and Radio produced “Diagnosis Cancer,” an hourlong broadcast that delved into cancer research, diagnosis and preventives.

However, with New Jersey suffering from the highest rates of prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, male colorectal cancer and breast cancer in the country, NJN wanted to devote more than just one hour to the topic. The station created an extensive online library of information to supplement the television discussion.

The Web site offered New Jersey cancer facts, a Cancer IQ quiz and video clips from the broadcast.

“NJN truly performed a community service with this entry, supplying survivor stories, show segments about prevention, treatment research, national and local links, updates,” said NJN line producer/Web director Lisa Bair Miller. “Our production and Web team worked diligently to make sure the information was current and on target for the New Jersey community and beyond.”

Just two weeks after “Diagnosis Cancer” aired, the site generated 42,000 hits. It continues to receive 8,000 hits monthly.

“To receive this amount of online traffic for a one-time special tells us that people are looking for access to seek answers about cancer issues and that we were there to guide them through their search,” said Miller.

The inclusive report presented technical and personal challenges for the team.

“(The most difficult aspect was) getting the myriad of facts gathered, correct and updated to ensure that we had a comprehensive and manageable Web site for online users to seek comfort, answers and resources,” said Miller.

“The most difficult part was hearing cancer patients, especially teens, talk candidly about their feelings upon diagnosis and their experiences as they underwent treatment,” said Sara Lee Kessler, host/senior producer/writer. “It was painful for me, probably because I have teenaged children.”

NJN continues to cover cancer issues, raising public awareness about cancer prevention, early diagnosis and cutting-edge treatment options.

“The most gratifying aspect of medical journalism is that it affords you the chance to provide information that could potentially save lives,” said Kessler. “At the end of a tough 10-hour workday, that makes me feel great.”