When HealthNewsReview.org publisher Gary Schwitzer writes on the future of health journalism, his words carry the weight of a database loaded with more than 1,000 reviewed stories. Like Charles Darwin’s long study of barnacles, Schwitzer’s micro-level scrutiny of the industry has left him uniquely equipped to tackle the big picture stuff as well. Which is why, when he draws a line in the sand, as he did in an essay published in a German public health journal, we should probably listen.
Schwitzer uses three examples: the hyper-expensive radiation treatments, comparative effectiveness research and good-old-fashioned disease mongering. In each, he asks reporters to be skeptical, and to push past the claims of vested interests. It’s easy to see where he stands, and he doesn’t pull any punches, as you can probably infer from this final sentence:
The future of health journalism will be determined by which roles journalists choose for themselves: cheerleader or watchdog, fear-mongerer or evidence-based reporter, part of the solution, or part of the problem.