Anemic health news coverage

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“Anemic.” That’s what the Wall Street Journal Health Blog calls the fact that health news made up 3.6% of all the news content analyzed by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism over an 18-month period ending in June.

One data point I locked into is this:

Despite ongoing debates about the future of our health care aystem, health did not become a dominant part of the 2008 primary campaign narrative. Looking at all of the presidential campaign coverage over the first six months in 2008, health-focused stories made up less than 1% of the coverage.

While the analysis ended in June, I’ll go further and predict that a systematic analysis of the June – November period would show that health policy coverage didn’t improve any.

The report concludes:

“Given the small portion of national news information that is dedicated to the health care system, it may be difficult for the public to become fully knowledgeable about the state of our system and potential changes under debate.”

See the full report here.

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November 24, 2008 at 1:36 pm

This doesn’t surprise me. Indeed, I’m a little surprised that it’s as high as what was stated given the horse race seemingly infinite campaign reportage.
But I’m also concerned that even in light of this, that professional nursing is still being ignored across all media.
I had the serendipitous opportunity to pitch nursing to Jon Meacham, and I blogged about it (link at my name). Even though I’m soliciting feedback and criticism, I haven’t received any from any corner of the intertubes. Care to give it a go?


November 25, 2008 at 11:09 pm

Hello, I’m a physician trying to do my part in making up for the lack of medical news. I started a health news site,, privately funded by me, to draw attention to the very small number of high-quality health news articles published in the media every day.
I have to say that as “anemic” as the health news is, there’s still a high volume of low-quality junk that gets pushed out the door every day. The same goes for our medical journals–95% of it is not news, rehashes of old stories, hopelessly preclinical, etc.
As bad as it is, the mainstream media does drive patient opinion. I hear people tell me everyday what they heard on TV or saw in the paper. I don’t get blindsided any more now that I peruse the news daily, and I have to say I’ve learned a lot of medicine in the process.
I hope you’ll check out my site, and perhaps consider contributing a story.
Michael Benjamin, M.D.