Dumbing down science news

A funny, witty column on medical science news coverage appears in the British paper, The Guardian. The author writes about the three types of science stories: wacky, scare and breakthrough. Their central theme? There is no useful information in most science stories. Read the article to hear the columnist’s ideas on why this happens.


TIME’s heart cover story raises serious ad/news questions

TIME magazine must be very happy with whatever deal it struck with Pfizer for advertising in the September 5, 2005 cover story, “How To Stop A Heart Attack.” But let me count the ways this story and the ads bother me: 1. Inside of the cover story article is a fold-out three-page ad spread for […]


Is AP Radio inviting fake radio health news?

A friend sent me a notice found on the Bulldog Reporter website, which is designed to help public relations people pitch their stories to journalists. The item was entitled, “AP Radio Welcomes News and Information Related to Healthcare, Eldercare.” It appears to be a clear invitation to PR people to send audio clips along with […]


Flaws in peer review

The Boston Globe offers a good look at how peer review of medical research by medical journals is not perfect. In the Globe: “Now, after a study that sent reverberations through the medical profession by finding that almost one-third of top research articles have been either contradicted or seriously questioned, some specialists are calling for […]


Doctor/"reporter" sells cream on QVC

Unbelievable. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a KDKA-TV medical “reporter,” who is a physician, was “peddling Joint Formula 88 joint pain relief cream ($21.90) on QVC.” Worse, if it can get worse, is that the cream is his product. Did anyone talk to this guy about journalism ethics before hiring him? I just spoke to […]


Nailing a story

Often I criticize health news coverage in this blog. Today, I praise a reporter for nailing a story. Andre Picard of the Toronto Globe and Mail hit a home run with his story, “Be Skeptical About the Herceptin Hype.” Herceptin is a drug intended for certain types of breast cancer. Picard writes: “The most eye-popping […]


Need facts, not emotion, in disease awareness campaigns

Suddenly lung cancer is a hot topic in newsrooms. Peter Jenning dies one day. The next day Christopher Reeve’s widow announces she has lung cancer. So it is understandable that some well-intentioned “disease awareness” efforts would come forward. But journalists should employ facts and full disclosure when giving attention to such disease awareness campaigns. (The […]


Selling Sickness

I just finished reading an important new book, “Selling Sickness: How The World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients,” by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels. It documents disease-mongering, how drug companies foster the creation of medical conditions to create markets for their pills, the marketing of fear, the “medicalization” of normal states […]

2 8/6/2005

Can't mix news and PR jobs

This is becoming a recurring theme: journalists working in news rooms while also doing paid public relations work. A Minneapolis-St. Paul TV anchor did it. A Nashville TV reporter did it. (Although she called me yesterday to explain that she’s not doing it anymore.) And now Detroit Medical Center announced that it has named a […]


Stem cell superlatives without caveats

ABC World News Tonight broadcast a story last night, a portion of which is captured on their website, about patients’ own stem cells used to build new blood vessels. It is interesting clinical research, but the story offered only breathlessly optimistic projections — no caveats, warnings, unknowns or uncertainties. An excerpt: “Results in more than […]


Tips & Resources for Analyzing Health Care Claims

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