Why we look for independent perspectives in health/medicine/science news stories

Fox News this week provides us several prime examples of why we look for independent perspectives with no conflicts of interest in news stories about health care.

One story on their website this week is headlined, “3D bioprinting offers minimally invasive surgery options.”

While there are several people quoted in the story, all of them are affiliated with the same research institute and/or worked on the 3D printer product that is covered in the story.

At the very end of the story, one of the investigators projects, “It would be reasonable to consider that we are one to two years away from applying for FDA [Food and Drug Administration] approval.”  Nothing in the story challenges that projection.

Someone stands to gain from the promotion of this research – and from any product that would go to market if and and when the FDA approves any such product.

We think such stories should include perspectives from people who don’t stand to gain.  Independent perspectives.

To make matters worse, look at this screen shot – and the arrows I’ve added.  While the video in the online story is showing a company’s printer, there’s an ad for that same company at the top of the page.  Somebody also stands to profit from these cozy editorial-and-advertising arrangements.


Also this week, Fox News published an online story headlined, “DNA rings may detect early cancer, researchers find.”

Again, it was a single-source story.  In fact, there was only one researcher interviewed throughout the piece.  No independent perspective appeared.

Again, at the very end of the story, that lone researcher is allowed to project “the technology is less than five to 10 years away from clinical use.”  There is no one there to challenge that projection.

The story referred to this as a “proof-of-principal study.”

That should be proof of principle.  It’s an interesting slip of the keyboard.

Principal can refer to a sum of money earning interest or it can refer to the owner of a commercial business.  Money is at stake with the promotion of both of these early technologies that Fox News promoted without the aid of independent voices that have no dog in the hunt.

That’s the principle that matters in this kind of health/medicine/science news.


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