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 […]


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.


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 […]


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 […]


Tips & Resources for Analyzing Health Care Claims

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