#NotDeadYet: Slate unleashes a discussion on impressive line of life, medicine and public health

Slate last Thursday, a daily web magazine, started a series on life expectancy.  I recommend you take the time to read the articles, covering everything from notable public health advances for improving maternal and infant health outcomes.  I was very happy to see many public health organizations to share these articles with his followers. While the content was enough to get me, I was particularly intrigued by the dialog online that was caused by this series.  Last week, my Twitter feed has been filled with members who are involved in the discussion using the hashtag #NotDeadYet.  In the first series, "why aren't you dead yet?", Laura Helmuth explores why life expectancy has doubled in the last 150 years.  At the end of the post, Laura asked readers to submit their stories of survival #NotDeadYet slate twitter or email accounts.  A selection of submitted stories ran today to finish the series of the week in the hope of life.

With so many newspapers and blogs (including mine) strongly depending on the comments section to start the discussion, I was intrigued by the idea of starting a thread Twitter hashtag support.  Impressed by the rate of high participation in my own food, I approached Laura Helmuth for more information about its dialogue with readers.  She was very kind to respond to my questions during so I guess that it has been a very busy with the series week!

She shared that slate received more than 200 e-mails from people who share their stories (some of them very elaborate). They also received over 800 responses on Twitter.  In terms of content of the history:

A quarter of the e-mails referred to the parto-mujeres who would have died giving to light and people who would have died when they were born. Many Twitter messages were also about birth, including many men who tweeted who would now be widowed without children if not for modern medicine. Slate also heard a lot of people who survived a trapping Appendix. Many people were saved from unpleasant infections with antibiotics. And some had horrible accidents that were patched up in surgery. Many people have had heart surgery. Many people attributed their antidepressants to keep them alive. A surprising number said that they were treated with antivenoms for snake bite.  Laura noted that this thread especially poignant hashtag because "people were taking a moment to share their most fearsome stories and express gratitude that are alive".  He also said that "it is a great reminder that for many of the people that we know that he would be dead if it weren't for the treatments sometimes take for granted". A big thank you to Laura for sharing these responses and reactions!After assembling this post, I have two messages: one about the content and one on the strategy that slate used to communicate this story.  (1) it is important to look back and the inventory and public health medical advances we take for granted.  Last year I wrote about the wonderful documentary Frontline "The vaccine war".  When he speaks of fears of vaccination and decreased rates of childhood vaccination, the documentary said that this new generation of parents is too young to know the devastating effects of the vaccine-preventable diseases with vaccines like polio.  One of those interviewed used a term that I really like-"Memories of the community".  As memories of these diseases community disappears, we can be complacent.  We're seeing the devastating results of this complacency with outbreaks of these diseases (e.g. outbreak of measles in Texas just a few weeks). (2) in public health should take note and learn from the strategies they used to participate to readers of slate.  We are always looking for ways to start the conversation further than the articles that we publish or we teach classes or webinars or twitterchats provided to us.  Some observations: the hashtag thread allowed them to take the discussion beyond the comments section on Twitter.  Hashtags can be located, what new entrants quickly could be acquired which originally do not follow or read the magazine.  The hashtag #NotDeadYet was innovative and "catchy" no boring as #PublicHealthAdvances.  Readers also had an incentive to share their stories, from the slate was selecting the top 50 to close the series.   I would love to listen to my readers!Have you read the series of life expectancy of slate?  Do reactions to share? have tried similar strategies to engage readers with content that you distribute?  Success stories or lessons learned to share?

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