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 […]

8/3/2005

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 […]

7/27/2005

Roles and responsibilities of health journalists

Eight authors, including me, discuss the roles and responsibilities of journalists who disseminate health information in a PLoS Medicine special edition. PLoS Medicine is a relatively new peer-reviewed open-access journal.

7/26/2005

Commercialism in TV health news

See my article on the Poynter Institute website, documenting perhaps the most disturbing trend in television health news coverage today.

2 7/13/2005

Journalists shouldn't live by weekly journals

A review in JAMA shows that journal article findings that a treatment worked were contradicted 16 percent of the time by later studies. And another 16 percent of the time, studies found weaker results than earlier suggested. So nearly a third of original published results did not hold up to further scrutiny. Dartmouth and VA […]

6/30/2005

Separating the puppets from the pros in TV health news

See my article on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website. In recognition of the sorry state of television health news, it’s a call for certification of TV health reporters.  TV meteorologists get certified by the American Meteorological Society after they prove some level of knowledge and skill.  But the audience doesn’t know anything about the credentials […]

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 […]

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