Health News Review

As we close out the week and prepare to head to a beach for a desperately-needed mid-winter break, here are some catch-up items we meant to write about earlier.

  • NPR interview with author of The Information Diet making the case for “conscious consumption of news and information.”  We certainly make that case for health news and information – which often floods a thirsty public with a firehose of information when all they want and need is a sip of balanced, unbiased, complete information.  Excerpt:

“The question is, can we make enough people go: ‘Hey, you know what? I’m done. I’m done with the sensationalism of media. I’m done being taken advantage of by media companies so that I can have ads sold to me.’ … If we want to make media better, then we’ve got to start consuming better media.”

  • I’ve cut way back on my speaking commitments for 2012 because I need to stay home and write more this year.  One that I look forward to is a University of Wisconsin event, “Science Writing in the Age of Denial,” April 23-24 in Madison.
  • This is really getting old since we’re a month deep into 2012, but among the Nieman Journalism Lab’s predictions for journalism for 2012  was this one:
    • “News will increasingly be a conversation rather than a series of stories. In 2012, the divide will grow between journalists who are intently aware of and responsive to the needs of their communities and those who continue to make decisions based on long-ago-learned fortress mentalities. I wish I could say I were optimistic about crumbling fortresses. Instead, I’ll say that I’ll be on the lookout for examples of news presented as an ongoing, topical conversation rather than a series of journalist-driven stories. In an election year, being responsive to users’ actual information needs and being a part of a community’s conversation is more crucial than ever.”

    I have often said that many news organizations are out of touch with the communities they are supposed to serve on health care issues – out of touch with what readers/consumers really need from health care news stories.  We base our 10 story review criteria on things we think consumers need from stories.

That’s a wrap.

See you back here on the blog in a week or so with sand still between our toes.


Gregory D. Pawelski posted on January 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Great post Gary! Thanks for the stray into Skeptical Scalpel’s domain (again). I like his material and he is so right about what he is doing.

Susannah Fox posted on January 21, 2012 at 8:30 am

I second your recommendation for “The Information Diet,” by Clay Johnson, which I am currently reading. It’s not only packed with tips for controlling your info intake, but Clay also infuses it with his Southern charm. Downside: the more you read, the more you crave fried chicken. You’ll see.

The other book I’m reading is “Reinventing Discovery” by Michael Nielsen, which focuses on how scientists who share data & collaborate in open systems are having more significant impact on their fields. Apropos of his points and Skeptical Scalpel’s posts, have you seen this form letter for telling editors you won’t peer-review for their journal if they support the Research Works Act?

If the link doesn’t work, follow William Gunn (@mrgunn) on Twitter — he is my source for it: