Local television news may be using pre-packaged health stories

Budget cutbacks are forcing some local television stations to use canned health segments that can be tailored to a specific local market.

The result can give “viewers the false impression that the stories were locally produced and the patients and doctors quoted in the stories could be their neighbors,” and one nationally syndicated physician is in some trouble for using them extensively.

Gary Schwitzer notes that this is a worrying trend, and that many of the pre-packaged segments are little more than company press releases. He calls the viewing audience the biggest loser in this scenario, saying they get “‘just add water’ TV news slipped into the newscast as if it is the most important news of the day for that community.”

Health journalists and television reporter need to be held to a higher standard, given the influence their material could have. Reading a story like this certainly does not inspire confidence in how medicine is currently reported by some media outlets.

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