Dr. Kim Walsh-Childers

Interview by Aurora Martínez

Walsh-Childers has taught at UF since August 1990. Her teaching and research experience ranges from journalism/mass media ethics to the news coverage of health issues and the relationship between mass media content and adolescent sexual belief and behavior.

1. Paper books or e-books? Paper books. I can read journal articles online when I’m writing, but I hate reading books in electronic form.

Dr. Kim Walsh-Childers

2. Day or night? Day. Most people on the third floor of Weimer know I’m usually there by 7:30 a.m. (pre-pandemic).

3. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? A racing jockey, a goal I had to abandon when I had reached 5’6” by the time I was in sixth grade.

4. What does diversity mean to you? Good question. Obviously, it means diversity in terms of race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. But I think it’s also important to consider background factors like income, rural vs. urban, etc.

5. What inspires you to continue teaching at UF? I guess it’s the feeling that I have a chance to make a difference in young people’s lives, whether it’s by providing the encouragement they need or by introducing them to ways of thinking about the world that they hadn’t previously encountered. 

6. What is one thing you wish every young journalist knew about the coverage of health issues? I wish every young journalist would learn about the critical role played by social determinants of health – things like income, geographic location, educational background, etc. Journalists focus far too much on individual behavior and access to health care as the determinants of health, but public health research shows that these factors (genetics, individual behavior, health care access) do not actually have the greatest impact on health, especially at the population level. Environmental policy, educational policy, transportation policy, housing policy – all of these have significant impacts on health, and journalists need to be able to make those connections clear to their audiences. 

7. Based on your experience, is there something that should change about the way in which women navigate the media industry? I think this already is happening in many places, so I’m not sure it’s a change, but I’d say that women should never hesitate to call out instances of discrimination or harassment, regardless of who’s responsible. And they should make sure their female colleagues (or even competitors) know that when these things happen, they’ll have each other’s backs.

8. Tell us something no one would ever guess about you. I’m not afraid of spiders, snakes, bats or basically any four-footed animal, and I’m OK with most bugs. But I’m mildly terrified of wasps and assassin bugs and creeped out by large centipedes.