The cream and the crud of August health journalism

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Over on HealthNewsReview.org, August has been a spotty month for health news quality.
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The good news: five stories have been given the site’s top five-star score. That’s a record for one month. They include stories by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Associated Press (two). All can be found here.

Then there was the crud:

• a one-star story by the Wall Street Journal on a depression drug being tested for chronic pain. At only 189 words, it was still wasted space. It apparently stole a quote from a news release without attribution.

• a one-star story by the CBS Early Show on an “artificial pancreas.” CBS called it a “medical miracle.” The anchorman gushed, in interviewing a patient:

* “How life-changing was it for you when you tried this thing?”
* “Wow. Wow. How much would you love it if this thing actually came on the market?”

• a zero-star story by the CBS Evening News on a form of 3-D optics to help surgeons. The HealthNewsReview.org summary on this one:

“CBS exaggerates benefits, fails to explain what’s really new, doesn’t mention costs and cites no evidence about whether the machine produces better outcomes or carries any additional risks.”

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