First day traffic to the new HealthNewsReview.org website was strong yesterday, with thousands of journalists and consumers visiting the site.
Public comment has been overwhelmingly positive.
Merrill Goozner of the Center for Science in the Public Interest wrote on his blog: “…I’m hoping a new effort by journalism professor Gary Schwitzer of the University of Minnesota has some impact on the profession. … He’s deployed several graduate students to monitor stories in dozens of newspapers and broadcasts and grade them with one to five stars — just like the movies! By hacking around his website for a few minutes, I quickly discovered that the grades were based on solid, objective evaluation criteria. Any reporter looking to see why their work earned a poor rating could learn a lot by delving into the details of the critique.
Schwitzer, a former journalist who works closely with the Association of Health Care Journalists, goes to great lengths to explain that he isn’t trying to belittle the reporters whose work is highlighted (I saw at least one got five stars). “We hope that U.S. journalists find our reviews helpful and accept the constructive criticism,” he writes. “This project is intended to support excellence in health and medical journalism.”
I wish him well in his efforts. Health care journalism has to get off the dead end track of reporting the latest study du jour, which is a one-way ticket to flacking for the drug industry. If there are any reporters reading this blog, I encourage you to check out his site. It’s got a lot to offer.”