Jack Beaudoin, MedTech Media, discusses changes to healthcare publishing industry

By Brad Dodge on September 27th, 2011

In the latest installment of our 10th anniversary blog series, a respected member of the healthcare media discusses his experience with Dodge over the years. To view earlier installments please click here.

Jack Beaudoin is the CEO of MedTech Media. He helped found the company in 2003 and was an editor of Healthcare IT News for many years before he became the editorial director for Healthcare IT News, Healthcare Finance News and all of the other websites and microsites MedTech Media produces. The transcript to his interview is below.

Dodge: How has the healthcare publishing industry evolved over the past decade in terms of developing new content?
Beaudoin: We differentiate ourselves from other publications in the healthcare industry because of our clear focus on news. I think the changes—or evolution—in “news” that we have seen has not been the content of news but the forms that it takes. As we’ve pushed online—web, tablets or smart phones—we’re experimenting with new forms; we’re not just writing the traditional article anymore. We’re using web tools like Storify or Cover It Live or slide shows. What’s really been exciting, I think, for healthcare journalists is that the range of telling stories has changed dramatically over the last decade.

Dodge: In your opinion, how can agencies best serve the needs of your editorial staff and readers?
Beaudoin: In my opinion—let me preface it with that—I’ve always said that agencies can serve editors by being the first gatekeeper to valuable information. An agency can send whatever they want to our editors, and we’ll look at it. But today, the amount of press releases or pitches vastly outnumbers our ability to report on these things. If an agency really wants to serve its customers, I think it serves editors and readers by pitching the types of stories that will have journalistic substance to them. They can announce new customers all day long, and they can announce changes in personnel; however, I think an agency should be able to say, “Hey this is part of a trend,” to place it in context, or say to an editor, “Not only are we suggesting you take a look at this institution, but look at what other institutions are doing like this.” I think that provides an invaluable service to editors who in-turn are trying to make sure that the information they deliver to readers is unique, important and newsworthy.

Dodge: How do you anticipate that the agency-publishing relationship may change in the next decade?
Beaudoin: Brad and I have talked about this before on a couple of occasions. Obviously I think there’s an increasing gray area or blur between what agencies and publishers are doing. From the agency perspective, the client is whomever you’re working for, and from the newspapers’ perspective—the newsgathering operation—we’re trying to serve our readers. We all need to be transparent about who the client is. With that in mind, I think it becomes “co-opertition”—cooperation and competition combined. I really see that happening. I know for instance that Dodge offers its clients microsites just like we do as publishers. I think we can share information resources when appropriate. I say “when appropriate” because obviously, the information we deliver always keeps our readers in mind and their best interests, whereas an agency has to keep its clients’ best interests in mind.

Dodge: What have you enjoyed about working with the Dodge team over the years?
Beaudoin: I would say that I’ve enjoyed working with Brad Dodge or Brian Parrish because we talk. Their knowledge and experience is a resource I’ve drawn upon in the past. Instead of just leaving a great idea in our laps, we talk about it. I’ve met with Brad a couple of times over the years to talk about ways that the industry is changing and what that means for our news gathering operation and what it means for your agency. It’s that brainstorming work together that I find important when I think of Dodge. The other thing of course, is in general, Brad and the team know what journalists need and what they don’t need. I think to protect the integrity of his operation, and thus protect the integrity of his clients, the whole Dodge team really screens what they bring to journalists. That’s invaluable, too, because like I said, we’re swamped with information. Our task becomes separating the wheat from the chaff.  The more that we can look at just wheat and the less we have to look at chaff, the better.

Dodge: Is there anything else you might like to add, or do you have a memory of working with Dodge you might want to share? 
Beaudoin: I have lots of memories because we always see the team at HIMSS and other major industry events, and that’s always a nice time to catch up. I guess I would say that the ongoing professionalism from Dodge has always made it a great team to work with. I was particularly interested in the question about how healthcare publishing has evolved over the past ten years. I think that’s where it gets really interesting for you folks, as well. I mentioned Storify and Cover It Live—but our team is also using LinkedIn for discussions, and we use Twitter, etc. I know that you guys are active in the social media front too. The sources, the distribution models and the communications around breaking news are all changing and it is important that we all stay abreast of emerging technologies.