Tag Archives: reporting

When is an interviewee’s sexual preference relevant to your story?

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Sensitivity in writing about research related to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals means more than paying attention to language and potential stereotypes in your story.

It also means making decisions about what information is even necessary to disclose about those you interview, especially if you’re writing about research where a person’s sexual preference may not necessarily be as relevant as it first seems. Continue reading

Study: Newspaper coverage rarely reflects medical evidence over time

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Binuri Ranasinghe via Flickr

Journalists are in love with reporting new findings about a disease and a particular risk factor, but they are not so keen on following what happens later and reporting on whether the finding was replicated – and just over half the time is later disproved.

This comes from a recent study in PLOS ONE by authors who previously found that journalists tend to favor initial findings over subsequent findings on the same outcome. Continue reading

For context, add global dimension to your reporting

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 AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Trudy Lieberman

Trudy Lieberman

Veteran health care journalist Trudy Lieberman says that she’s long observed that U.S. health reporters are reluctant to reach out globally to inform their reporting.

She points out that the health stories we’re asked to report are the same ones our counterparts abroad are writing and that this “reportorial parochialism results in poor understanding of foreign health care and makes it easy to report misleading or false claims because we have no knowledge to judge their correctness or to give context so audiences can judge for themselves.” Continue reading

Be cautious about superlatives in cancer drug reporting

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Amy Dame via Flickr

Photo: Amy Dame via Flickr

For much of modern medical history, the elusive holy grail of medical research has been a “cure for cancer.” Today, scientists have a better understanding of cancer, the diversity of cancer types and the fact that “cure” probably is not the correct word – ever – to use in discussing cancer treatment.

Yet not all journalists appear to have gotten that memo. A study posted Oct. 29 in the Research Letter section of JAMA Oncology explored how often “cure” and nine other similarly exaggerated terms were used by the media when describing new cancer medications. What they found is nothing to brag about. Continue reading

Hospital association official confuses news reporting with lobbying

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 AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Blythe Bernhard and Jeremy Kohler have been writing in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about Missouri hospitals’ unwillingness to publicly disclose medical errors.

So, when the St. Louis Metropolitan Hospital Council released a statement opposing public reporting of medical errors at hospitals, the reporters sent the statement to Missouri legislators and asked them for their comments.

I can only imagine the surprise Bernhard and Kohler felt when Daniel Landon, senior vice president of governmental relations for the Missouri Hospital Association, sent an e-mail to health professionals that characterized the reporters’ actions as coming “close to the definition of what constitutes lobbying, which is defined by the Missouri Ethics Commission and requires lobbyist registration.”

Landon said hospital association staff members planned to raise these concerns with legislators and had considered a complaint with the ethics commission.

“We think it is useful to put the Post-Dispatch on notice that someone is watching their actions in this regard,” Landon’s e-mail said. “Otherwise, the reporters will continue to push the envelope between reporting and promoting public policy changes to support their editorial positions.”

Another representative of the association later said the message was “regrettable.”

A Post-Dispatch editorial about the incident made clear to readers the difference between the editorial page and the news department, explaining that it “maintains strict church-state separation between the editorial page and the news department.”

When newspaper reporters or editorial writers communicate with legislators, we do so as journalists, acting in what we believe is the public interest. And regardless of whether public reporting of medical errors would serve hospitals’ interests, it clearly would serve the public interest.

Related

Kohler wrote an article for AHCJ about how he and Bernhard investigated medical errors and the lack of public information available to help consumers choose their health care providers: Public handicapped by lack of information on medical errors.