2017 brings new grant, new followers, new goals for HealthNewsReview.org

Gary Schwitzer is in his 11th year as publisher of HealthNewsReview.org.  He tweets as @garyschwitzer and/or by using our project handle @HealthNewsRevu.

We begin 2017 with a new two-year grant from The Laura and John Arnold Foundation, whose support saved this project after a perilous period without funding in 2013-14.  Their support in 2015-16 allowed us to greatly expand our efforts and to reach 60% more website users over that time period.  Picture a classroom that is able to effectively expand to reach 60% more learners.

We also want to thank all of the individual donors who have sent gifts – big and small – to the gift account established for us within the University of Minnesota Foundation.  Those individual donations have added up to about $35,000 so far.   I remember how, for years, interested parties would chide me, saying, “You don’t even have a DONATE or GIVE button on your website!”  Well, we do now, and many of you have used it and we are so thankful for your kind support.

We don’t accept advertising.  So we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk.

It is difficult to find funders to support our work partially because, frankly, we usually upset someone with anything we write on any given day.  Either a journalist or PR professional may not take criticism well (although, increasingly, we are gratified by how many do), or someone in health care research or the health care industry may bristle at our independent review of the evidence – perhaps because we cut through the spin that put their ideas or products in the most positive light.

We are the un-spinners. Patients and consumers need help, not hype.  And they get that help from us.

There is no other project like ours in the United States, with only one that is directly comparable in the world (in Germany), and our explosive growth in followers demonstrates what a hunger there is for independent expert commentary on journalism, public relations, advertising and marketing messages about health care.

My goal, over the next two years, is to reach out to more potential funders and partners with a message that this is not merely a media watchdog effort.  Instead, I view it as primarily a grassroots health care reform initiative that offers patients, consumers, citizens – the general public – tools to help them improve their critical thinking about health care.  The reason we stand out – the reason we have drawn the following that we have – is that no other organization provides the general public this kind of help every single day as we have been doing for more than 10 years now.

Media messengers, in my view, are just the gateway.  If we can help journalists, PR professionals and others to improve what they write, then their audiences will be better served.  But if media professionals cannot or will not change, then what we do must have a direct-to-consumer impact and influence.

It’s our goal to:

  • improve the public dialogue about health care
  • help people improve their critical thinking about claims about health care interventions
  • help people become smarter health care consumers who make better, more informed decisions.

With the leaps in progress we made in the last two years, I can’t wait to see what we’ll achieve over the next two years.

Keep coming back.  We’ll make it worth your time.  And we’re always open to your ideas for how we can best serve the goals listed above.

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