Pharma PR appears as unvetted COVID-19 vaccine news in STAT newsletter

I’ve written about STAT’s Morning Rounds newsletter in the past, and criticized how STAT accepts pharma sponsorship of the newsletter. In the last two weeks, for example, the newsletter has featured sponsored content from: drug company AstraZeneca; the Biotechnology Innovation Organization – whose biggest sponsors include drug companies Lilly, Merck, Amgen, Johnson & Johnson; biotech […]


Following the dexamethasone COVID-19 drug news as it unfolds today

I’m flying solo while trying to catch up on today’s news on preliminary announcement of trial results of the drug dexamethasone for COVID-19 patients. What follows is a series of tweets in response to what the Associated Press, CNN, the BBC, the New York Times, and some smart physicians on Twitter have written. Among the […]


Same old, same old, with NY Times Well column – bisphosphonates for pneumonia this time

While the overarching theme may be the same – the puzzling editorial decision-making in the New York Times Well blog/column – the specific topics change – and so, provide more examples for instruction. Bone Drugs May Have Added Benefit: Lower Pneumonia Risk is the headline of the latest troubled piece that caught my eye. The opening line: […]


Reuters report is another classic case study in how NOT to cover COVID-19 news

Four days ago, Reuters reported from Rome, “New coronavirus losing potency, top Italian doctor says.” The statement that COVID-19 “has become much less lethal” and that “the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy” caused an uproar in the global scientific community. But it was Reuters that gave the scientist an international megaphone. Journalist Roxanne […]


60 Minutes promotes one hospital’s “promise of plasma”

I’m a bit late on this with only a few excuses.  The birth of a new grandson.  Computer problems.  Living in the Minneapolis area and being focused on the death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests. But this is worth addressing, even though a little late. CBS 60 Minutes broadcast a story it called, […]


Avoid single patient, single source COVID-19 stories – especially on “cures”

This is a lesson for news readers from Fargo to Duluth to Toronto and places in between and beyond.  The lesson is that you can’t jump to conclusions based on news stories about a single patient, or about a single researcher’s belief in a cure. Single anecdote stories There simply isn’t much you can say […]


Journalism in pandemic: online training for thousands of international journalists

When I taught media ethics in the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication, I’d be thrilled to teach in an auditorium filled with 150 students. This week, I spoke to an online course that has more than 7,000 international journalists enrolled from more than 150 countries. That’s what I’ve been told by […]


Warning: early vaccine trial results don’t always stand test of time

“The drugmaker Moderna said on Monday that the first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in people appeared to be safe and able to stimulate an immune response against the virus.” That’s what an early New York Times story reported yesterday. Erick Turner, MD, reacted on Twitter: Hey, didn’t you hear? The vaccine “appears to be […]


Flubs and flaws in New York Times stories on llamas and coffee

I’ve written it and said it before: I applaud most of the New York Times pandemic-era news coverage. But I continue to see head-scratching lapses in editorial approach and judgment – flaws that could be so easily corrected with a bit more caution and care. Hoping llamas will become coronavirus heroes is a Times story […]


Mutant coronavirus story upsets scientists about preprint journalism

This is the way many of my days begin these days, being blasted out of my chair by smart skepticism and criticism on coronavirus issues on social media.  Today’s lift-off came from a virology researcher at Cornell: This LATimes article is INFURIATING. So much misinformation based on just that preprint. They took quotes from the […]


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