Conference walks back description of partnership with heart news website

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

A medical conference has retreated from a claim suggesting a trade website was being used to promote it and that supporters would be able to “reach new audiences” through a partnership between the conference and the website.

The 2010 Dallas-Leipzig International Valve conference has issued a correction after it came to light that it was promoting its partnership with theheart.org as a “highly influential source of publicity” and said theheart.org will “cover the benefits of attending DLIV 2010; it will forecast key aspects the meeting will offer; it will report on the highlights of the two-and-half day event – and more.”

Conference organizers have since posted the following note on its website (emphasis added):

Given the success of DLIV 2009 and its potential to grow in years to come, the meeting organizers have partnered with theheart.org to promote DLIV through their banner advertisements and e-blasts. [Correction: the previous material erroneously stated that industry would have the opportunity to gain exposure through theheart.org's news and editorial programs: this is incorrect, and the meeting organizers apologize for the error. theheart.org had no other involvement with DLIV's offers to industry.]

Shelley Wood, managing editor for Heartwire news and theheart.org, said, “There is a firm firewall between news activities and any advertising or sponsored content on theheart.org and at no point would outside parties be able to dictate the news or editorial content of theheart.org.”  She pointed out theheart.org includes a staff of seven journalists.

Larry Husten, on his CardioBrief blog, pointed out details about sponsorships at the conference, including the opportunity for supporters to pay large amounts of money to meet with faculty members. He noted that its website linked to an Industry Prospectus, a document listing opportunities for exhibitors and sponsors. Sometime after he published the post with a link to the Industry Prospectus (now archived on Husten’s site), conference organizers removed it from the website.

In the prospectus the conference announced its partnership with theheart.org:

Given the success of DLIV 2009 and its potential to grow in years to come, theheart.org recognizes the impact the meeting has in the field of cardiac care. Through its website, online blog and print publications, theheart.org will cover the benefits of attending DLIV 2010; it will forecast key aspects the meeting will offer; it will report on the highlights of the two-and-half day event – and more.

With this highly influential source of publicity, DLIV 2010 offers to its supporters new benefits. By participating in DLIV 2010, you will not only reach the physician leaders who attend the meeting; you will also have the opportunity to make contact and establish relationships with a worldwide audience. Don’t miss out on the chance to reach new audiences, gain additional media benefits and connect your company with the specialty source for news and information.

Theheart.org’s editorial policy says it is committed to providing “balanced, accurate health information” and it “employs editorial professionals who are responsible for content selection, development and maintenance process.” It says it discloses “sources of funding and site contributors’ possible conflicts of interest.” It also says it complies with the HONcode standard for health information (more here).

It should be noted that Husten (aka @cardiobrief on Twitter) is the former editor of theheart.org, something he is quite open about.

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2 thoughts on “Conference walks back description of partnership with heart news website

  1. Shelley Wood

    Kudos to Pia Christensen for being the only reporter who actually called me to get the other side of this story. Standard journalistic practice, in any setting.
    Shelley Wood
    Managing Editor, heartwire

  2. Pingback: Dallas valve meeting withdraws previous statements about its relationship with TheHeart.org « CardioBrief

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