6/24/2005

TV news doesn't cover health policy news

40-million uninsured Americans.  15 percent of the GNP spent on health care.  Medicare in trouble.  States squeezed to manage Medicaid.  Just a few things in the news, yet local TV news doesn’t find time for many of these issues. See my J school’s summer <a href=”http://www.sjmc.umn.edu/mreporter/healthcomm.html” target=”_blank”>magazine</a> for a glimpse of my 2004 election year […]



5/26/2005

WebMD story hypes Levitra

WebMD posted one of those stories that makes my skin crawl. The formula: use a cute, sexy headline and lead sentence, then follow with weak caveats, leaving the reader with nothing useful at the end. The story is headlined, “Levitra a Day May Keep the Doctor Away.” It promotes Levitra use with its lead sentences, […]



5/13/2005

Caveat Viewer

Jessie Gruman, Ph.D., of the Center for the Advancement of Health, offers a column on the dangers of television health news and information. Excerpt: “In Oklahoma City, a popular new local television program based on the ABC network’s “Extreme Makeover” takes women eager for a new look and sets them up with plastic surgeons, Lasik […]



5/11/2005

Journalists suggest scientists know more than they do

Three of my former Dartmouth colleagues published an excellent review in the Washington Post on how news coverage last year “probably misled readers about both the size and certainty of the benefit of aspirin in preventing breast cancer.” More than just pointing a finger, the researchers explain how the research was misinterpreted and offer some […]



5/3/2005

Reporters are not the story

Old school journalistic values are still important: it’s vital to try to preserve objectivity and distance from your subject and sources. You may not always achieve it, but you don’t throw these values away willy-nilly. Then comes TV news ratings/sweeps periods. KSTP-TV in Minneapolis began a two-part series on one of their reporter’s ovarian cancer […]



5/2/2005

CNN fails straight facts on gay foster parents debate

CNN, in a new struggle with the definition and practice of credibility, played matador in allowing questionable statistics on the air in a debate over a Texas legislative move to prevent same-sex couples from becoming foster parents. CNN allowed a supporter of the legislation to claim that research showed that children in foster homes with […]



5/1/2005

Hyperbole's new heights (or depths)

When one reader saw my posting about CNN’s declaration that a pediatric surgeon was a “god” doing “miracles,” he referred me to a similar story in the Onion, entitled “Amazing New Hyperbolic Chamber Greatest Invention In the History of Mankind Ever.” Read it. It may remind you of something you’ve seen in TV health news.



4/28/2005

Deifying a doctor; fawning sensationalism

Excerpt from the Paula Zahn Now program on CNN from last Wednesday, April 20: “Reporter” Sharon Collins had the “People in the News” profile of a pediatric heart surgeon. Zahn’s intro said the surgeon “performs small miracles for desperate parents.” Collins, early in the piece said, “That man is Mohan Reddy or as many parents […]



2 4/25/2005

Alzheimer's gene therapy hype

This story appeared in my local paper today: “The first attempt at gene therapy for Alzheimer’s patients appeared to significantly delay worsening of the disease in a few people who have tested it so far. Scientists took skin cells from eight patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and modified the genes to secrete a […]



4/22/2005

Broadcasters should have to disclose all commercial sources

At a panel I organized and moderated entitled “Creeping Commercialism in TV News” at the Broadcast Education Association conference in Las Vegas yesterday, WFLA-TV Tampa news director Forrest Carr called for FCC regulations requiring stations to disclose any commercial source of guest interviews, video, or on-air information. He said what the FCC recently stated regarding […]



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