Interview: Scott Hensley

Scott Hensley joined The Wall Street Journal in 2000 as a reporter covering the pharmaceutical industry. After leading the newspaper's coverage of the Human Genome Project, Hensley became an editor and blogger in 2007.

Scott Hensley joined The Wall Street Journal in 2000 as a reporter covering the pharmaceutical industry. After leading the newspaper's coverage of the Human Genome Project, Hensley became an editor and blogger in 2007.

PRWeek: How has your coverage changed to meet public demand for more flexible, up-to-date media?

Scott Hensley: On the health blog, we try to cover the waterfront of what we think are the most important and interesting stories in healthcare. We do that as quickly and as accurately as we can while [still] upholding the journalistic standards of [our] organization.

PRWeek: How has that changed the schedule you have to keep, as opposed to the old days of reporting just for print?

Hensley: [April 1] was a perfect example. I started looking around for stories and material around 7... in the morning, and we had a few posts up by 9am and continued posting pretty regularly through-[out] the day.

Then there was a bunch of late news that came up, and I left the office at 7:30 last night.

So it was a 12-and-a-half hour day, and I think we did 10 posts, of which I wrote two
and edited the rest.

PRWeek: What are the most important healthcare issues to your readers right now?

Hensley: There's a great deal of interest in drug safety and risk, and how... that info [is] communicated and what kind of information do [readers] want to know and how do they get it.

I think the recent controversy over the cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin brings questions about risks and what do we know about the medicines we're taking, and do they work the way we think.

PRWeek: What's your relationship with commenters and other readers who touch base with you on your blog?

Hensley: We don't require registration of commenters, so we only know what they choose to reveal about themselves.

For the most part, the conversation is civil. We have had more than 21,000 comments since we started [the blog].

We moderate the comments, but after they go up, and for mostly taste reasons. We've probably taken down 200 to 300 comments since we started.

PRWeek: What is your relationship like with the PR industry? Do you get a lot of tips or pitches from PR pros?

Hensley: We get a lot of pitches. I think that is something that's accelerated in the past few months. I think the popularity of the health blog has put it on the radar screen of a lot of people, and it's also a place where we don't have the space constraints that the newspaper often does.

So if something's interesting, we may choose to write on that [topic], and it might be a harder proposition for the paper depending on the day.

Name: Scott Hensley

Title: News editor, health and science

Outlet: Wall Street Journal health blog

Preferred contact method: healthblog@wsj.com

Web site: blogs.wsj.com/health/

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