HA: Health policy and social insurance in general are not well covered. Health policy analysts spend their lives trying to understand the staggering complexity of the U.S. health care system. Reporters and editorial writers don’t have that luxury. They are largely at the mercy of one or another self-interested party to whom they may speak. This is an area where it’s extraordinarily difficult to do a good job, unless you specialize to some degree.

TL: So do you have any advice for the reporter who may not be an expert but covers these subjects sporadically?

HA: They should be careful of politically committed groups using the trappings of science not in the pursuit of truth but to make a case. Understand that even honest organizations are going to be attacked from both sides.

TL: Any other advice?

HA: Try to identify sources of honest analysis. If you want some suggestions, give me a call.

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.