Gary Schwitzer launched HealthNewsReview.org on April 17, 2006, modeling it after a Media Doctor Australia project he so admired. Looking back (with closure pending) he is thankful for the opportunity, the funding he received, the platform, the team he assembled, the 6,000+ articles produced, and the impact. He tweets as @garyschwitzer.
We chose this Thanksgiving week to present a podcast in which our “magnificent seven” – our small editorial team – each reflect on a single observation about health care journalism after working on this project.
For me, that’s a reflection on a 45-year career, but also on more than 13 years since I started planning this project in 2005. Each of us, I know, reflects on how fortunate we have been to be able to do this work and to keep this project – indeed, this movement – alive for this long. We are thankful for the opportunity to be able to do what no one else in the U.S. was doing – and what few worldwide had even attempted. We are grateful for having the platform to apply our skills, knowledge and experience to try to help people – especially confused health care consumers – who are truly in need of accurate, balanced and complete information. We are blessed to have had each other to work with in our small core group. Our backgrounds were quite different but our hearts and minds were in the same place, with the same motivation and the same dedication to improving the public dialogue that is still too often so misinformed.
Our plan for this podcast was to ask each staff member to identify one key observation about what they had seen and learned while working on HealthNewsReview.org. Our talented podcast producer, Michael Joyce, put it all together.
Here’s our team in the order in which you heard them on the podcast, as well as a few additional resources to dive deeper into some of the lessons and themes they highlighted.
Another good read: Communicating Uncertainty: Media Coverage of New and Controversial Science
Theme: The polluted stream
Here’s our podcast on the polluted stream, and an egregious example we exposed in 2016:
Theme: The importance of audience
Just how misleading can news releases be? Kat recommends our series on Problematic PR releases.
The last time a news release received a 5-star rating from our reviewers was December 27, 2016. Here is that review.
Theme: Scope & accountability
Joy uses the medical device industry — in particular, a device called the Life Vest — as an example of a lack of accountability.
Theme: How excellent writing challenges the prevailing narrative
For examples of excellence in health care journalism, Jill recommends our 5-Star Friday series.
An example of how a misguided narrative gets established; in this case, the ‘optimism’ narrative in Alzheimer’s disease.
Theme: It’s a tough beat, but not hopeless
Mary Chris mentions that, for the most part, the term “fake news” is very misleading.
However, there are also times when the term is spot-on. Here’s an example.
In this podcast, a look at the consequences of doctors and patients having less time together.
The New York Times “Well” section is unwell: what happens when a newspaper starts taking less time reporting medical news.