In order to improve health journalism, we must learn from examples good and bad.
One of the worst we’ve seen in some time was published last week by the Des Moines Register.
A paid advertisement could not have been more promotional and less informative than this one-sided celebration of a type of chiropractic manipulation.
The story features the case of one man who suffered terrible pain from a nerve disorder called trigeminal neuralgia. Readers are told that he credits the treatment with preventing him from committing suicide by immediately ending terrible pain attacks that conventional medicines failed to control. The story quotes practitioners and announces an upcoming event they are hosting, but there are no independent voices nor any reference to independent sources of information on either the disorder or its treatments.
By trumpeting a highly emotional and extreme case, by failing to challenge the vague claims of practitioners promoting their services, and by ignoring independent sources of information, this story is the antithesis of solid medical journalism.
Thanks to Andrew Holtz for his role in this review.