1 6/23/2017

5-Star Friday: Our staff pick some gems of health care storytelling

It’s easy to get caught up in words like media, journalism, and news, and forget that what we do — and why we do it — is the joy of telling stories. In health care the topics we cover can run the gamut from the mundane or heavily scientific, to the heart-wrenching and controversial. But […]


Here’s why you can go ahead and ignore all those clickbaiting ‘olive oil protects against Alzheimer’s’ headlines

What a story from USA Today: “Extra virgin olive oil staves off Alzheimer’s, preserves memory, new study shows.” I’m not even sure where to begin on this one. So. Many. Issues. And, unfortunately, USA Today was not the only news outlet to cover this study. Newsweek, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Philadelphia Inquirer all covered it, too. […]

2 6/21/2017

American Diabetes Association’s Twitter fiasco: Does it matter to patients?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) sparked a social media uproar at its annual conference in San Diego earlier this month when it restricted participants from posting photographs of slide presentations on Twitter: The response by conference attendees — especially those quite active on social media — was brisk, passionate, and hinted at “Orwellian” censorship. Medscape, […]

2 6/20/2017

Is vegetable oil really as good as a statin?

After decades of scientific squabbles over the role of saturated fat in the development of heart disease, the American Heart Association (AHA) claimed last week to have put the debate behind us in a news release that began this way: “Replacing saturated fats with healthier ones found in some vegetable oils can reduce cholesterol levels […]

2 6/19/2017

New example of conflict of interest in Mayo Clinic sponsorship of Star Tribune newspaper section

When it was announced that the Mayo Clinic would sponsor the Star Tribune newspaper’s Science & Health section in 2015, I was interviewed about the announcement, and wrote about it. All I could do was speculate at that time about some of the potential pitfalls of the newly-announced arrangement, and speak generically about the problems […]

1 6/15/2017

What does the public really know about patient safety at US hospitals? Not much

Nick Budnick, a reporter who knows his way around Oregon’s healthcare scene, just wrote a chilling tale in the Portland Tribune about a 52-year-old patient who died in 2015 after 12 teeth were pulled at Oregon Health & Science University’s dental surgery clinic.  The man’s liver had trouble producing the clotting agents the body needs to […]


Conflicts of interest in health care journalism: VIDEO with our publisher about “an unhealthy state of things” (Part 3 of 3)

In the past two days, we’ve outlined a number of concerns about news organizations, professional journalism organizations and academic institutions that are involved in health care journalism reporting or training while accepting sponsorship or funding from health care industry entities that are often subjects of what the journalists or trainees do or will write about. (Part one of […]

4 6/13/2017

Conflicts of interest: Time for world’s top health journalism organization to reconsider fundraising practices. Part 2 of 3

Perhaps few journalism organizations have tried harder to minimize conflicts of interest than the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), the leading professional organization for journalists who report on health care. The two of us know AHCJ well, having been members almost since its launch 20 years ago. We’ve both served on AHCJ’s board, attended […]

7 6/12/2017

Conflicts of interest in health care journalism. Who’s watching the watchdogs? We are. Part 1 of 3

Ben Harder, a journalist with US News & World Report, recently tweeted, “Pharma ads subsidize many health reporters’ salaries.” Elisabeth Rosenthal, who now heads Kaiser Health News after a long career with the New York Times, tweeted in that same discussion, “Many of my articles in the NYT carried pop-up ads for pharma. Infuriating.” Many […]


White bread ‘healthier’ than whole grain? Why readers should avoid these half-baked stories

File this under definitely NOT the best thing since sliced bread. Headlines claiming that “Whole Grain Bread Might Not Actually Be Healthier Than White Bread.”  It’s the latest turn of the clickbait merry-go-round powered by preliminary studies whose conclusions may change from week to week. Despite the ephemeral nature of the findings, some journalists breathlessly […]


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