11/4/2005

TV news runs from healthcare reform news

See my article in the BMJ this week about the shameful performance of three leading local television stations as they failed to cover health policy issues in any meaningful way in the 2004 election year –- on the local, state, or federal level. I analyzed 10 months or 326 hours of late newscasts on award-winning […]

2 10/30/2005

Another ill-advised use of "cure"

When are journalists and scientists going to learn? “Cure” just isn’t an acceptable term to use in describing test tube research, unless you’re talking about a new way to treat ham. An Associated Press story Friday began: “Scientists at the University of Michigan Medical School are part of a team that has discovered a possible […]

10/21/2005

New Herceptin study > new hype

Herceptin has been used to treat advanced breast cancer, but three New England Journal of Medicine articles this week suggest the drug could work against an aggressive early-stage breast cancer. Some news stories allow researchers (including a National Cancer Institute researcher) to use words like “cure” in describing the drug. Other experts were quoted calling […]

10/12/2005

Tone down the stem cell hype

The University of Minnesota issued a news release this week reading, in part: “For the first time, stem cell researchers at the University of Minnesota have coaxed human embryonic stem cells to create cancer-killing cells in the laboratory, paving the way for future treatments for various types of cancers (or tumors). The research will be […]

10/5/2005

A different kind of awareness for Breast Cancer Month

Canadian drug policy researcher Alan Cassels observes October as breast cancer awareness month by analyzing the hype of breast cancer drug Herceptin. He writes: “The media pushed the glee meter into the red zone, with words like ‘breakthrough,’ ‘wonder drug,’ and ‘impressive advance,’ overblown, laudatory adjectives that I admonish journalism students to strenuously avoid.” Cassels […]

9/19/2005

Incomplete story on digital mammograms

Many news stories on last week’s study on digital mammography in the New England Journal of Medicine were shallow and incomplete. Many ran with a single theme that digital mammograms are 15% to 28% more effective than traditional film mammograms in the detection of breast tumors in women younger than age 50, women with dense […]

9/12/2005

Dumbing down science news

A funny, witty column on medical science news coverage appears in the British paper, The Guardian. The author writes about the three types of science stories: wacky, scare and breakthrough. Their central theme? There is no useful information in most science stories. Read the article to hear the columnist’s ideas on why this happens.

9/5/2005

TIME's heart cover story raises serious ad/news questions

TIME magazine must be very happy with whatever deal it struck with Pfizer for advertising in the September 5, 2005 cover story, “How To Stop A Heart Attack.” But let me count the ways this story and the ads bother me: 1. Inside of the cover story article is a fold-out three-page ad spread for […]

8/31/2005

Is AP Radio inviting fake radio health news?

A friend sent me a notice found on the Bulldog Reporter website, which is designed to help public relations people pitch their stories to journalists. The item was entitled, “AP Radio Welcomes News and Information Related to Healthcare, Eldercare.” It appears to be a clear invitation to PR people to send audio clips along with […]

8/17/2005

Flaws in peer review

The Boston Globe offers a good look at how peer review of medical research by medical journals is not perfect. In the Globe: “Now, after a study that sent reverberations through the medical profession by finding that almost one-third of top research articles have been either contradicted or seriously questioned, some specialists are calling for […]

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