Calling out BS on “Promoted stories”

We got some nice recognition from Rodale, Inc. this week, which included our work in their first “Rodale 100″ list “honoring trailblazers positively impacting lives around the world.”  They published a nice article about our work, “Meet the Guy Who Calls Out B.S. Health News For a Living.”  (They didn’t use the part of the interview […]


Podcast: Christie Aschwanden – 1st in our series on standouts in health care journalism

In our podcast series, we’re giving you a chance to hear directly from newsmakers, and from some who maybe should be in the news but aren’t.  But we also want to occasionally feature some news reporters. Today we profile Christie Aschwanden, the lead writer for science at FiveThirtyEight and a health columnist for The Washington Post. She’s also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, a […]

1 1/25/2016

Top journal editors resist transparency

It’s difficult to make a case for hiding or obscuring information about health and the medicines we take, but it seems the editors of two top medical journals are doing just that. The decisions of these editors substantially affect the quality of medical research studies reported, what public relations officials communicate about those studies, and […]

7 1/22/2016

Predictable Pre-diabetes One-sidedness

A new campaign to increase awareness about pre-diabetes has exploded in news coverage today.  This post is about news coverage and journalistic responsibility – so please don’t misconstrue the message that follows. Diabetes is a serious public health concern. But there are things journalists could have – arguably should have – included in their stories […]


Media case study: PR news release vs. news stories on mammography screenings for older women

If you’re not at least a little bit confused by current mammography guidelines you’re in the minority. And if you’re an elderly woman (75 and up) or a caregiver for one it can be especially daunting to stay on top of the latest recommendations regarding mammogram screenings in later life. Policy makers don’t have as […]

1 1/20/2016

Fear-mongering of smart phones based on stressed-out rats is just silly

The iPhone and related devices are changing our world in countless ways. Are they also changing our children’s brains? Researchers are scrambling to keep up with the possible implications for child development. Much of this research is preliminary and in some cases relies on animals. And there are notable pitfalls when journalists cover emerging research […]


Camembert kills cancer? Cheesy headlines distort preliminary rat study

The headlines about a study from the University of Michigan stink worse than a block of ripe Limburger and have more holes than a wheel of Swiss. Cosmopolitan UK: Cheese has got super cancer-killing powers according to science UK Express: Un-brie-leavable: Fight cancer with CHEESE, study claims MD Magazine: Good News for Cheese Lovers, Kill […]


Podcast: Real harm to real people from shoddy PR news releases

News consumers are often unaware of how much of what they read is dominated by – and may, in fact, be simply a minimal re-write of – PR news releases written by people whose job it is to make their institution, their faculty, their ideas, their research or their products look as good as they […]


“Slow-chewing” study news release begs a mouthful of questions

A news release about a study from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Jacobs School of Engineering claimed recently that “Chewing slowly helps prevent excessive weight gain in children.” That release was subsequently reposted and picked up by a number of news stories across the web that passed along the claims uncritically. Some examples: […]


Moon shot cliches are becoming shopworn

By my count there are at least three active health “moon shots” underway: one devoted to curing Alzheimer’s disease and two devoted to cancer cures, including the latest cancer moon shot announced by President Obama (to be spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden) during his State of the Union speech January 12. Other groups and institutions […]


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