Fifty years ago, in a golden moment of television comedy shows, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In program regularly featured “The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate” award.  Wikipedia says it “recognized actual dubious achievements by public individuals or institutions.” Do a Google search.  You’ll quickly see how popular this award became. Yes, I’m dating myself by going back 50 years.  But mine is the generation that often becomes obsessed with being given “the ...

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A Miami Herald story, heralds “Prostate cancer hits younger men.”  You know right away how this one is going to play out. The story begins by profiling a 48-year old man with prostate cancer.  It says his “doctor ordered the test as a routine practice for his male patients.”  There isn’t any discussion about how such ordering as a routine practice doesn’t demonstrate the kind of shared decision-making model that the ...

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For the past 24 hours I've squirmed about whether to or how to criticize NBC's Andrea Mitchell about her on-air announcement of her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. How can you criticize someone who is dealing with what she - and so many other women - are dealing with? But it's now clear that some breast cancer survivors and others who know the science are critical of the message ...

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We're five years old. We've been doing the same thing the same way for five years and have analyzed over 1,488 stories using our ten standardized criteria on HealthNewsReview.org. We've recently returned from the annual Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) conference in Philadelphia, where we led a two-hour workshop, and where we received a tremendous amount of gratifying feedback on our work and many terrific suggestions about new ...

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After seeing the NBC Nightly News last night, a physician urged me to write about what he saw: a story about a "simple blood test that could save women's lives." Readers - and maybe especially TV viewers - beware whenever you hear a story about "a simple blood test." And this is a good case in point. Brian Williams led into the story stating: "Two of three women who die suddenly of cardiac heart ...

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It's been another challenging week for journalists covering various screening stories.

First the new analysis of Swedish mammography studies: Some familiar flaws surfaced in some stories. Then came the followup analysis of the National Lung Screening Trial - first reported last fall. This week various headlines announced:
  • More evidence CT scans better at detecting lung cancer
  • Study bolsters evidence that screening reduces lung cancer deaths
  • Nat'l Study Shows Long-Term Smokers Should Get Lung Cancer CT Scan
Most ...

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It's not a new phenomenon. In fact, it's troubling how old and widespread it is. But when TV news departments partner with, and sell news time to local medical centers, you can take the Radio-Television Digital News Association's code of ethics and throw it out the window. Blythe Bernhard reports in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "In St. Louis, the latest media/hospital partnership is a campaign from Barnes-Jewish Hospital and local ...

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So I'm watching the 6 pm local news last night and see a piece on KARE-11, my local NBC affiliate, about "a new buzzword called 'cyberchonrdria'" -- used to describe people who "Google their symptoms online and then worry over the multitude of results and possible diagnosis ..." But it's clear from what they posted online that this was not ...

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