Reporters of some business stories we’ve evaluated say that our criteria aren’t fair to or shouldn’t be applied to business stories – that some health care industry business announcements may be incomplete but are still newsworthy. We have no disagreement with that latter statement. However, it is the framing of the news coverage at such times that is worth scrutinizing.
This story demonstrated exemplary caution and analysis. And we hold it up to those who cover the business of health as an example of how you can satisfy most of our criteria – even with a very preliminary business announcement.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive degenerative disease. While there are newer treatment options including newer drugs and deep brain stimulation, a definitive treatment remains elusize. Newer approaches, such as the delivery of a treatment directly to the sites in the brain affected by the disease are exciting possibilities. Stories about the development of new treatment approaches should focus on the difficulties and uncertainties as well as the possibilities. This story did a good job of that.
Not applicable. There was no discussion of costs but that is understandable at this early stage.
What we especially appreciated was the tone and the framing of the story.
It didn’t call this idea a treatment. It called it a “potential treatment.” It’s not a treatment until it’s been shown to actually treat someone for something.
It used the word “potential” three times in the story.
Not applicable. No track record to discuss.
The story highlighted some of the uncertainties. For example, it stated:
There was no disease-mongering in the story.
No one truly independent of the Medtronic-Lilly partnership was quoted. We would have liked to have seen independent expert perspective on the approach.
The story at least made brief references to other approaches in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. We would have liked more substance, but this was adequate given the context of the new announcement.
The story makes it clear that the effort “is still many years from yielding a marketable treatment or even starting human testing…The drug may not enter human clinical trials for up to five years.”
The story did an adequate and appropriate job of wrapping this approach into the context of other related research.
It’s clear that the story didn’t rely solely on a news release.