Health News Review

I know this probably feels like Germany day on this blog. But what’s wrong with that?

In writing earlier about my visit to Dortmund last week, I remembered that some of my brief thoughts on “The Future of Health Journalism” were published in the German journal, Public Health Forum, this month.

Summary:

“The future of health journalism will be determined by which roles journalists choose for themselves: cheerleader or watchdog, fear-mongerer or evidence-based reporter, part of the solution or part of the problem.”

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Comments

Dr. Thomas Kron posted on September 20, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Dear Gary,
you are right saying journalists have to choose which role they want to play…
One big problem in Germany at this time is, that too much medical writers can`t live without PR.
This results in PR-stories,which are too often better than real journalistic stories. Especially writing for physicians (we have a lot of newspapers and magazines only for physicians)is a bad thing. The quality is really getting worse.
After more than 20 years of experience in medical writing I don’t think that a lot of medical writers will think about their role as journalists. They only want to survive.

Sascha Karberg posted on September 23, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Dear Dr. Thomas Kron, I agree, that choosing quality journalism won’t lead to a Porsche. But one can make a living, even as a full-time freelance science journalist with a quite big family. Well, it’s just a Fiat, but it still drives!
Seriously, even in times of shrinking article fees, choosing to write high-quality stories (or at least having the goal to meet some quality criteria) won’t automatically result in personal bankruptcy. The goal of the German media doctor is to raise the awareness of quality criteria in medical and science journalism. To make publishers more aware of the consequences of cheap, PR based “cut-and-paste” articles. To force “journalists to think about their role as journalists”, as you say. And, finally, to encourage freelance journalists, editors and publishers to come together to find new, creative ways to come up with good stories despite the overall financial pressure.
You may think, I’m a dreamer (might be true, my experience sums up to just 10, not 20 years). But I really think, it’s not always a question of money but also a question of organization or priorities to publish a good or a bad story. E.g.: Why is it so important to “be the first” with a certain news, if the news is just wrong? Wouldn’t it be better to think first, ask (interview) a few more experts (or at least one!) and publish the right thing a day or two later? Wouldn’t “the reader” be pleased and thankful?
Financial restrains exist in all parts of the economy these days. But this shouldn’t be an automatic excuse to drop quality. Especially because Germany with its system of publicly financed TV and radio is still in a quite comfortable position, compared to other countries – namely the US.