Premature talk of a cure

Many serious health journalists struggle with how to handle research stories in animals. Last night, KSTP-TV in MInneapolis-St. Paul presented a story that showed little attempt to put mouse research findings into a meaningful context. It was on Rett Syndrome, which KSTP reported was “a disorder similar to autism.” They said, “Doctors, who are testing […]


TVWeek profile of HealthNewsReview.org

The magazine TV Week this week profiles my efforts with the HealthNewsReview.org website. On Friday, I’ll present data at the Association of Health Care Journalists annual conference in Los Angeles on our findings from the reviews of the first 300 stories in our first 11 months of experience with the site. It’s not a pretty […]


Troubling TV Health News Trends

In the February issue of Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), Trudy Lieberman writes about TV news stations accepting pre-packaged new stories created by health care behemoths such as the Cleveland Clinic or the Mayo Clinic, creating stories that are “a hybrid of news and marketing, the likes of which has spread to local TV newsrooms all […]


Medicare Advantage sign-up dirty tricks

On the listserv of the Association of Health Care Journalists, a journalist raises an important issue that we don’t hear enough about. That journalist wrote: “May I suggest that while Washington is obsessing about Walter Reed, the rest of us should be paying attention to what’s happening in our back yards in the run-up to […]


Erythropoietin bad news hidden late on Friday?

Merrill Goozner suggests that the FDA announcement late last Friday afternoon, issuing an official warning against giving cancer patients erythropoietin drugs (Epogen, Procrit, Aranesp) for anemia, was timed to minimize bad news or embarrassment. Goozner writes: “What struck me most about yesterday’s announcement was its timing. It has long been a hallmark of White House […]


Are you anxious?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s HouseCall program on CNN today featured a story on anxiety disorders, and offered one of those handy self-assessments that allows you to diagnose yourself with almost anything under the sun. Gupta said only one in five people with anxiety disorders get help. Then he offered a self-assessment from the Anxiety Disorders Association […]

4 3/9/2007

"The Epidemic" of shoddy TV health news

Sometimes my own critics have said that I am unfair to those who practice television health news. They imply that because I once worked in that field I am bitter in my criticisms. Well, veteran journalist Trudy Lieberman never worked in TV news, but you must read her comprehensive indictment of current TV health news […]


New Mayo study questions value of lung cancer CT scans

The screen-at-all-costs mentality takes an intellectual hit with the publication of a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The conclusions of those authors: “Screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT may increase the rate of lung cancer diagnosis and treatment, but may not meaningfully reduce the risk of advanced lung cancer […]


NNT – Number Needed to Treat

TIME magazine this week has an article on what it calls “medicine’s secret stat,” NNT or number needed to treat. The magazine uses the example of a study that might show that statin drugs lower the risk of heart attacks by 30%. “But that number is meaningless unless you take into account the percentage of […]


Nonstop hiccup girl harassed by nonstop media pressure

You may have heard about the 15-year old Florida girl who started hiccuping a month ago and hasn’t stopped. If you watch the network morning shows, your chances of knowing about her are better. What you may not know is the level of harassment applied to book guests like her. The St. Petersburg Times reports: […]


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