The trifecta of TV health news stories: scanners, screening, reporter involvement

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TV loves screening stories. They love big scanners. And they love to have their reporters wear hospital gowns and get down and get scanned. The trifecta of TV health news stories.

A few weeks ago, KOVR-TV in Sacramento reported on a local scanning center’s promotion of whole body CT scans “to catch disease before you have symptoms.”

While the story did talk about radiation risks and did include one skeptic who said such scanning was “pointless and could lead to more unnecessary testing,” it did fall into the trap of allowing the reporter to get screened. Why do they do that? Why should any of us relate to her story – which may not be and probably isn’t anything like our own?

But they also ended the segment with the scanning center’s name and phone number on the screen for a full 30 seconds. Great free advertising!

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The 5 pm story only teased us that the results of the reporter’s scan would be on the 10 pm news. I couldn’t find that followup anywhere on the station website.

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Zoleeta [Health IT Writer]

December 15, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Good post.
You know, I think the reason why they have reporters do these stunts (if that’s the correct word)
is to 1: have something to report about (keep the news interesting)
2: Have someone out there believe that “nothing happened to her, so maybe it’s safe?” DESPITE the radiation risks.
Some have to see it to believe it I guess.