NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine -

Five Star Friday: Vox, Stat, FiveThirtyEight… and also horrifying horsesh-t.

Color bar 5-starSaluting excellence once again in our Five Star Friday feature.

In our systematic story reviews, Julia Belluz of got a 5-star score for her piece, “How well do flu shots work? Here’s what the science says.

The New York Times got a 4-star score for “Talk therapy found to ease schizophrenia,” and US News & World Report also received a 4-star grade for “Could an Inexpensive, Underused Drug Reduce Blood Loss During Surgery?

Other noteworthy items that we did not review:

The Boston Globe’s Stat:  Brain surgery on live TV — helpful or exploitive? Specialists see risk in Sunday’s primetime event.  It’s about an upcoming Sunday night prime time TV event – a Cleveland hospital allowing a broadcast of brain surgery live on the National Geographic Channel. Some “medical experts warn such programming can be risky and exploitive. Some surgical societies have banned the practice, with one even threatening to discipline surgeons who conduct live operations for television audiences.”

Christie Aschwanden’s piece on, “Science Won’t Settle The Mammogram Debate: The latest recommendations show that the fight isn’t about evidence, it’s about values.”

One item that would not have received 5 stars if we had reviewed it:

The Los Angeles Times story, “Cheese really is crack. Study reveals cheese is as addictive as drugs.” One journalist wrote to me about this saying only, “This is horrifying reporting.” And on Facebook, Forbes’ Matthew Herper wrote, “This feels like horseshit.”

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