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Improvement in health news grades

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Some good things are happening in health news coverage.

Of the first 12 stories reviewed in 2009 on HealthNewsReview.org, five have received the top five-star score.

In the three years of the project, there have never been so many highly-rated stories in such a sport span. In fact, only 13% of all 712 stories reviewed so far have received five-star scores.

Next week in a talk at the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making’s Policy & Research Forum in Washington, DC, I’ll also be presenting some new data that shows small – but I think significant – improvement on some of our criteria on which journalists have traditionally done most poorly.

This is especially significant, in my view, given the terrible times in newsrooms these days.

• bottom line pressure hurting the quality of health news.
• lack of training
• impact of layoffs and cutbacks
• shrinking news hole for health care news overall
• weakened newsrooms more vulnerable to PR and ad pressures

Many people continue to work hard every day to report health news in depth, emphasizing evidence, context and integrity. We applaud them.

At the same time, network television health news pieces continue to disappoint. Look at the thumbnail below of two recent ABC Good Morning America segments. One got zero stars, the other two.

GMA reviews.png

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