1/15/2008

Ethical news director quits over hospital deal for fake TV health news

Although I said I was on a blog break until January 22 because I’m on vacation and should be out on the beach, when I read about this, I had to share it with those who may not have seen it. An Eau Claire, Wisconsin newspaper reports the following: “One year after being hired as […]

1/8/2008

More journalistic screening bias: "a matter of faith not science"

Last year I published an article documenting several instances of U.S. journalists’ apparent bias in favor of certain screening tests – in the absence of evidence supporting such tests in they way they were being promoted. Now it’s just come to my attention that an Australian team published an article in November describing an analysis […]

1/3/2008

2007's "Stinkiest Media Performances"

Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon have posted their 2007 P.U.-litzer Prizes for “the year’s stinkiest media performances.” Two health-news-related pieces made the list. Here’s what the judges said: “AMERICANS DON’T WANT UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE” AWARD — Jeff Greenfield of CBS, et al. Reflecting what became mainstream media’s conventional wisdom in the wake of Michael Moore’s “SiCKO” […]

2 12/30/2007

Bothered by "breakthroughs"

I have published the following commentary on the HealthNewsReview.org website. TIME magazine, like many publications, loves year-end lists. Its “Top Ten Medical Breakthroughs of 2007” list offers brief capsules on developments that someone at TIME decided were in the top ten and also that someone decided qualified as breakthroughs. The list: Circumcision can prevent HIV […]

12/26/2007

Does the language of a story match the evidence?

Mark Zweig and Emily DeVoto authored a thoughtful piece on how journalists may imply cause-and-effect in reporting on research, when the study design didn’t really establish cause-and-effect. Examples: Eating fish may help preserve eyesight in older people. The authors calculated that participants who did 75 minutes a day of activities… lowered their risk of dying […]

12/20/2007

Does Your Language Fit The Evidence?

The following is a guest column by Mark Zweig and Emily DeVoto, two people who have thought a lot about how reporters cover medical research.   A health writer’s first attempt at expressing results from a new observational study read, “Frequent fish consumption was associated with a 50% reduction in the relative risk of dying […]

12/2/2007

Goodbye, Columbus TV health news credibility

Nothing new here at all – just the latest episode of a local community discovering that its glorified local health news is often just paid-for advertising. The Other Paper of Columbus, Ohio unveils how Ohio State University Medical Center pays one station almost $100,000 a year to air “Breakthroughs in Medicine” segments in the newscast, […]

11/30/2007

"The Christmas miracle of antioxidants"

Ben Goldacre, a British physician and writer, makes a prediction in this week’s BMJ (subscription required for full article access): “I’d like to make a sage prediction, seeing as it’s early December. One of the joys of watching bad science coverage in the media—as I have done for four years now—is that you start to […]

11/21/2007

Trying to reach editors to improve health journalism

We may be preaching to the choir with many of our attempts to improve health journalism if we only reach reporters. The editors to whom they report may be the most important group to reach to effect change. With that goal, I’m grateful that The American Editor, a publication of the American Society of Newspaper […]

11/20/2007

TV sweeps period contrived controversy

We’re in the middle of the November TV ratings/sweeps period. TV stations at these times often suddenly like to show a great interest in health care stories because their consultants tell them that viewers want health care news. (Why they don’t give it this attention the rest of the year is unknown.) But health care […]

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