12 new items published

Improving the public dialogue about health care

Our first full week of operation in 19 months


And what a week!  8 systematic, criteria-driven story reviews and 4 blog posts.  In all, about 20 members of our editorial team contributed. Here's a summary: 


First, for new and past visitors, we reviewed who we are, what we do, how we rate stories, and how we plan to introduce reviews of health care news releases by Spring. 


We noted the fickle finger of fate, as our friend Paul Raeburn published his farewell post on the Knight Science Journalism Tracker the same week that we were getting back in full-steam ahead mode.  The Univ. of Minnesota School of Public Health, our new institutional home, published a nice piece about our project.


Alan Cassels Our first of many new guest blog posts for 2015 was written by our Canadian colleague Alan Cassels, "PSA Test: good myths die hard." I expect Alan to be heard from many more times on our site in the future.


Because much of our effort was devoted to orienting our review team and re-launching systematic story reviews, our Watchdog blog was relatively quiet.  So I published a Sunday summary of items I thought were noteworthy from throughout the week. A dozen items in all - ethics problems at NBC News, the Washington Post Quick Study column, ProPublica is hot, and some reactions to the "bad luck blamed for 2/3 of cancer" study and stories. 


Now, here are links to our systematic story reviews: 

  • A cross-media comparison of how 4 news orgs reported the avocado-cholesterol/heart health study.  Bloomberg,  NBCNews.comNPR, and Medical News Today. Note: there were no independent perspectives in any of the stories. 
  • "How Exercise Keeps Us Young," by the New York Times Well blog. Our review: "The research reported on here isn't strong enough to back up the story's provocative claims."

Finally, for years, and especially during our lean, unfunded period, many of you asked why we didn't have a DONATE or GIVE NOW button on our site.  Well, to help prevent unfunded, lean years again, we now have such a button, that takes you to an electronic form for easy processing.  To any of you who asked in the past, or who go this route now, thank you. 


I'm touched by the very first gift to come in the door - from my longtime friend and mentor, Dr. John E. (Jack) Wennberg.  Jack, the father of the Dartmouth Atlas, and early promoter of shared decision-making, is now Active Emeritus Professor of Community and Family Medicine in the Dartmouth Medical School and Active Emeritus Professor of The Dartmouth Institute.  He made a generous financial donation, after already consistently making a generous intellectual donation whenever I've been in his presence. 


That's week one of our new life; more and better coming up. 

Gary Schwitzer
Publisher, HealthNewsReview.org
Adjunct Associate Professor
University of Minnesota School of Public Health
This project is now supported by a generous grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.     


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