Madeline Laguaite graduated with a master’s degree in Health and Medical Journalism in Spring 2022. She is a content strategist for WebMD.
The following is an edited transcript.
What do you do? How did you get there?
My role focuses on content trend development and analysis.
Before my current role, I interned with WebMD twice, then I started working full time. During my internships with WebMD, I was an editorial intern. I would do a lot of editing and writing. I was mainly writing medical references. I worked with other interns across other departments to make a presentation that we showed to the executives at the end of the summer. We looked for five areas that WebMD could improve, so it was a content strategy presentation.
I also interned with Sharecare Inc. I was a freelance writer, and I reported for organizations like Georgia Health News, and I think that experience really helped get me into my current role. My master’s work also helped get me here.
Can you explain more about content strategy?
It is audience engagement work and search engine optimization (SEO). I keep an eye on trending topics, so WebMD can jump on the trend before it peaks. I also look at user journeys, so I see which content resonates best with which audience.
Can you tell me about the podcast you work on?
I started a podcast called To Health and Back. I wanted to marry health history and journalism. I decided to tackle COVID related topics. I tried to think of ways to weave history back into today’s narratives.
Can you tell me more about your freelancing experience?
I had a contracted freelance position. They would pitch things to me, and my specialty is LGBTQ health. It was mostly them asking me for work.
Do you have any particular topics that you focus on within or outside of LGBTQ health and health and medical journalism?
A broader topic that I cover is health equity, which relates to content strategy. Within LGBTQ health, I focus on mental health and trans-health. I am really passionate about trans-health. Recently, I wrote a story about acceptance and how to come out. That story helped me explain how sexuality is intrinsically related to health. From the time that you are a kid to the time that you are an adult, it is important to have supportive parental figures. Many of the people I spoke to did not have those supportive parental figures. I have also done stories about substance abuse and queer health. Many people do not have the resources they need to get help.
What kind of background did you have prior to entering the HMJ program?
I got my bachelor’s in journalism. It was an advantage, however I realized that health and medical journalism was so much different than plain journalism. One of the most useful things that I learned was how to know which studies to put weight behind. I learned about conflicts of interest and harm reduction. If you make a mistake in health writing, then you could harm someone’s life. The harm reduction aspect in health writing was way more important than I had realized.
Can you tell me about your experience in the health journalism program, and how it led you to where you are now?
The program changed my life for the better. I was taking Sabriya Rice’s advanced health journalism class, and I prepared for everything on the syllabus. However, when the pandemic hit, she decided we would switch gears and cover that. I had already planned my whole semester. I like to plan for things, but that class made me comfortable with health reporting. I got field experience in the medical sphere. It was very eye opening, and I realized I can talk to these people who use jargon. It helped me acclimate myself into the health media sphere.
What are your goals for the future?
I want to get back into editing. The future steps for me are navigating content strategy as a former journalist. They go hand-in-hand. I want to use the content strategy experience as an editor in the future.
Do you have any advice for the current HMJ students?
Do not be afraid to ask questions. I learned more in grad school, because I felt comfortable asking questions. Use the network that Grady has, because there is a vast network of people who are experienced in the field and willing to help.