Note to our followers: Due to a lack of sufficient funding, will cease daily publication of new content at the end of 2018. Publisher Gary Schwitzer and other contributors may post new articles periodically. If you wish to donate, your gift might help keep the site available to the public for a few more years, by defraying costs of web hosting and maintenance. All of our 6,000+ published articles contain lessons to help people improve their critical thinking about health care. Read more about our change in status. And here's how to make a donation.

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 […]


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 […]


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.


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 […]


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 […]


Confessions of a VNR user

The Post-Standard of Syracuse profiles a local TV station that used a Medicare video news release in February. How did it happen? The general manager says since they got it from the CNN Newsource news feed, they thought it was legitimate news. CNN’s Newsource transmits not only news but news releases to subscribers around the […]


Why so much hype for one procedure?

The New York Times and at least one television network newscast profiled a first-of-its-kind aortic valve implant done through a catheter feeding the device through a vein in the patient’s leg rather than by open heart surgery. Why such hype? As the Times reports, the operation was the first of “at least 150 that federal […]


Beyond cures, breakthroughs and news releases

Please see my article on the Poynter Institute website today. It touches on cheerleading in coverage of health news, on commercialism in health news coverage, on widespread conflicts of interest in the dissemination of health news, on the power of words in health news, and on some of the good things being done to improve […]


Journalists: how will states handle Medicaid this year?

Journalists should scrutinize their state legislatures’ handling of Medicaid in 2005. Feeling squeezed by the feds, states are caught in a bind. Minnesota Public Radio quoted the state finance commissioner: “Health and human services is growing 20 percent from one biennium to the next. We don’t have revenues growing at that rate. And that’s a […]


Tips & Resources for Analyzing Health Care Claims

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