Reuters wins Wall of Shame award of the day for single source health news story

Boston Scientific says atrial fibrillation device in demand,” stated the Reuters health news headline.

Wall of Shame - text on brickThe entire 357-word story was apparently based on an interview with the Boston Scientific CEO after the company reported first-quarter earnings.

It may have been intended as a “Business” story but it’s labeled as a “Health” story.  And we came across it just as many others would – in a web search – where consumer health news is mixed right in with business or stock market news.

No matter how you categorize it, it was a completely one-sided story, as single source stories predictably are. And even if it was intended as a business/stock market story, don’t investors deserve independent perspectives as much as patients or consumers do?

So it describes a Watchman device for atrial fibrillation treatment.  And it reports:

  • “It is a big unmet need” – according to the CEO.
  • “There were many patients waiting for this to be approved” – according to the CEO.
  • “A lot of big centers in the US want it now” – according to the CEO.
  • “The demand is certainly high and the physician interest is high” – according to the CEO.

All of which may be true.  But good journalism seeks independent expert perspectives.  And none appeared in this story.

Journalism?  Or cheerleading?

When journalism turns over its platform entirely to a corporate voice, hasn’t it just become advertising or public relations?

For a different perspective, read Larry Husten’s piece from just last month, “FDA Approves Watchman Device From Boston Scientific After A Long And Strange Trip.”

Addendum on May 5:  Or see this questioning piece of journalism from Markian Hawryluk at the Houston Chronicle, “New device effective in preventing blood clots, but experts fear overuse, high costs.”

You might also like

Comments (1)

Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.


May 8, 2015 at 11:27 am

The Reuters story on Boston Scientific’s atrial fibrillation device is a good example of the role of corporate influence on the media in selling health care products and procedures. The media is also complicit in the selling and promotion by Boston Scientific and other device manufacturers of a product and procedure to treat atrial fibrillation called catheter ablation. This treatment is far more risky and much less effective than advertised, yet due to unquestioning media coverage and virtual recasting of corporate public relations as news, it has become an established therapy.
I wrote a book about my wife’s experience with catheter ablation for afib and describe the role of corporate influence on the media in selling this risky, unproven procedure: