On a mission to shine a light, find important health care stories

  • Comments
  • Print

I was eight years old when I broke into journalism. Every afternoon after school, I would lift a heavy canvas bag onto my shoulder, stuffed with Cleveland Press home editions, and begin walking up and down driveways in my neighborhood.

I felt pretty important, tossing newspapers onto porches, serving up the latest news of elections, murders, football games and department store openings. If a particular headline caught my eye, I would read the paper as I walked. It was a good way to make a buck.

A few decades later, I still think this is a great gig, being the first to find the news and get it to readers every day.

I’m the new guy on the IBJ health care and life sciences beat. I’m succeeding J.K. Wall, who is moving on to other things here. I hope you’ll help me find interesting, important stories.

I’ve worked for more 20 years at newspapers in Indiana, Ohio and Illinois, including 10 years at the Indianapolis Star. The most important lesson I have learned in that time is you never know where the next big story is coming from. It could come from a phone call from a stranger, a backyard discussion with a neighbor, a magazine story on an unrelated topic, or an angry whistleblower who wants to share a box of important documents.

This blog is my best chance to have a conversation with you. I want to hear your thoughts about what I’ve written and what I should be writing about.

My goal is to shine a light on the business and economic issues of the industry, and answer big questions. Why are medical procedures so costly in Indiana? Which drug prices are rising the fastest and why? How are hospitals dealing with Medicare readmissions penalties, which are costing them millions of dollars? How powerful are the health and medical associations in Indiana, are what are they doing behind the scenes to shape policy? How much more capacity will the market bear for new urgent care centers?

What I’m not interested in doing is serving up a batch of stories on new products or services, unless I can use them to provide a window into how a critical decision was reached.

At my heart, I am an investigative reporter. I love to find big stories in records, data and internal documents. In the past decade, I’ve won more than 40 national and statewide awards, many of them for exposing corruption or conflicts of interest. My stories have resulted in FBI investigations, indictments, government hearings, high-level resignations and firings.

I believe the press really can make a difference. But I can’t do it without your help. If you know of something truly important or outrageous going on, I want to hear about it. The best way to reach me is by email: jrussell@ibj.com. You can also call me at 317-472-5383.

I look forward to learning a lot, and chasing down answers to important questions every day. There’s a lot to cover. Let’s get to it.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: IBJ is now using a new comment system. Your Disqus account will no longer work on the IBJ site. Instead, you can leave a comment on stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Past comments are not currently showing up on stories, but they will be added in the coming weeks. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.