Gary Schwitzer is the founder and publisher of HealthNewsReview.org. He tweets as @garyschwitzer, or uses our project handle, @HealthNewsRevu. He will miss the bulldog, but knows it’s time to say goodbye.
We weren’t the ones who started calling our project “a watchdog.” Readers did. Journalists who wrote about us did. When people would introduce me before a talk, that’s the label they would use.
So when it came time for one of our site re-designs about 7 years ago, we decided to call ourselves what it seemed everyone else was calling us – a health news watchdog. So the bulldog with a newspaper in his mouth became our logo. And our tagline became, “Your Health News Watchdog.” It made sense then. It was how we were being recognized. And it was related to what we did every day, watching health care news, analyzing it, and offering constructive criticism.
It was related to what we did, but it was not our core mission. And so, without fanfare except for this blog post, the watchdog has been replaced on this website and on our social media sites. We think that our new logo and tagline do two important things.
First, we’ve finally added .org to our name, which is important since throughout our 12-year history there have been cheap copycat sites that use names somewhat similar but not with the .org at the end. Our name is not Health News Review. It’s not HNR. It’s HealthNewsReview.org. And that’s now clear right at the top of every page of our website.
Second, and much more important, our tagline now clearly captures our mission: “Improving Your Critical Thinking About Health Care.” We are, and always have been, far more than just a media watchdog project. We strive to help audiences – including journalists, patients, people who aren’t patients yet but will be, and even health care professionals – to improve their critical thinking about health care and about the way health care messages are communicated to the public.
As we often say in our reviews, “The words matter.” And the words in our tagline matter. Being explicit about our mission matters. Readers regularly let us know that this is one place they can come to with confidence to get help every day to improve their critical thinking. We often receive almost plaintive cries for help in a media environment that drowns the public in a tsunami of not-ready-for-primetime news. One recent day we woke up to three Twitter messages:
That was just one day. Other days it is journalists or patients or patient advocates or academics or even policymakers crying out for us to comment on something that is polluting the public dialogue.
We hope many more people get the message now that we’re more clear about it. It’s not beating our own drum to say factually: There’s no one around that does what we do. Please take advantage of it.
(If you still see the old watchdog logo at the top of the page, please clear your website cache and then reload the page.)