5-Star Friday: Reports of the death of investigative journalism have been greatly exaggerated

5-Star FridayWho says investigative journalism is dead?

(And, yes, I know the subtitle above is a misquote. It’s been investigated.)

This brings up something that comes up again and again in my mind: both medicine and journalism are being hurt by being too rushed.

Our collective health would improve tremendously, in my opinion, if our health care providers and health care journalists were simply given more time to ply their trades.

Kudos to those organizations who get that, and kudos to the reporters below who — as our managing editor Kevin Lomangino describes it — pierce the veneer.

Michael Joyce | Multimedia Producer

How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food • by Andrew Jacobs, Matt Richtel, Neil Collier, and Ora DeKornfeld • New York Times

Michael Joyce

For the first time in history we now have more overweight people in the world than underweight. It’s the new malnourishment.

How this is happening is debatable; what isn’t debatable is that it poses a global public health challenge of daunting proportions.

This will likely become one of the most important health topics of the next half century, and covering the complexity of it — as this print and video collaboration does so well — will require investigative reporting with significant investments of time and money, as well as the courage to take on the multinational food giants.

Let’s hope we see more coverage of this caliber.

Gary Schwitzer | Founder & Publisher

How We Found Tom Price’s Private Jets: A tantalizing tip, followed by months of painstaking reporting, revealed the HHS secretary’s extravagant travel habits • by Dan Diamond and Rachana Pradhan • Politico.com

Gary Schwitzer

This was a terrific example of bulldog, gutsy, groundbreaking investigative journalism. This reporting team broke the initial story and kept adding new findings.

One observer wrote on Twitter: “This is why journalism matters.”

Another wrote:  “Pulitzer Prize worthy detective work…and a GREAT read.”

Jill U. Adams | Associate Editor

 Which Country Has the Best Health Care System? Readers Respond • by Aaron E. Carroll and Austin Frakt • NYTimes.com The Upshot blog

Sometimes a topic is so big and so complex that it’s hard to find a way in. Let me present you with this fantastic shallow dive into the muddy waters of health care.

The authors previously produced a cross-country comparison of health care systems; in this column, they answer reader questions.

The resulting piece is full of life and engaging language, balancing anecdotes with expert analysis.

Kevin Lomangino | Managing Editor

This Alzheimer’s patient stars in a multimillion-dollar ad campaign for pharma. He may soon be homeless • by Rebecca Robbins • STAT

Kevin Lomangino

Health care marketing — and especially prescription drug promotion — is full of sloganeering: “breakthoughs” and “gamechangers” abound. This piece digs far below the surface of a pharmaceutical industry image campaign dubbed “Go Boldly” and explores the crumbling life of one of its stars who suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

The contrast between his real-life challenges and the image presented in the campaign is stark.

For me, this is what great health care journalism excels at — piercing the veneer of a crafted message to bring readers the complete story.

At HealthNewsReview.org a vital part of our mission is our systematic, criteria-driven reviews of both news stories and news releases. That’s not what you’ve read above. The above articles simply reflect our commitment to sharing some of the many examples of great health journalism we come across.

Here are  2 news stories we’ve systematically reviewed over the past few weeks that earned 5-stars by satisfying most of our 10 criteria:

Reuters Health deftly reports new data on hormone therapy for menopause

• Very nice coverage of a study that addresses a longstanding and important question: Is combined hormone therapy (estrogen + progesterone) linked to premature death?

Solid Report from NYT on peanut product that claims to reduce allergy risk

• Gradually exposing your infant to peanut products to prevent future allergic reactions is intensely debated. This story covers the important science behind this debate quite well.

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