Aunt Edna is key to secret family recipe for connecting with readers

August 1, 2008
Yomi Wrong

When I left a career in daily newspapers to join Diagnostic Imaging, I relied upon an old journalism proverb to guide me: Tell it to your Aunt Edna.

When I left a career in daily newspapers to join Diagnostic Imaging, I relied upon an old journalism proverb to guide me: "Tell it to your Aunt Edna."

For the uninitiated, that means writing in a journalistic style that is conversational and easily readable, yet clear and concise.

Of course, Aunt Edna doesn't read DI. Doctors and patients need different information, presented in different ways. But that hasn't forced me to unlearn my training. Whatever the subject, I believe the best approach is straightforward. With medical writing, however, the reader's inherent knowledge frees me of the need for oversimplification. No longer do I have to explain what an MRI is. Or help "Aunt Edna," who reads at a sixth-grade level, understand the implications of a clinical study.

Still, the transition from newspapers to DI has been equal parts rewarding and challenging.

The reward comes in reporting on fascinating topics that fall outside the realm of general interest but are no less important to the greater good. I may not be bringing information directly to the masses, but helping physicians better understand their specialized skill is every bit as fulfilling. I remain a public servant.

My background in health news has been a tremendous asset. But crossing the learning curve, gaining more of that inherent knowledge that will make me a more effective writer and editor-that, I know, will take time.

Learning new things, exercising my brain, and meeting interesting people are hands-down this journalist's best reward. At DI, I get it all.

-Yomi Wrong is feature editor of Diagnostic Imaging.