Media Matters

Regular readers of GlassHospital know that my primary goal is to offer insight into the world of health care, to pull back the veil on topics inherently and often unnecessarily complicated.

This blog has been the beneficiary of vigorous reader interest in health care. To me (and many others) it seems there is an insatiable appetite for content about health and medicine.

To that end, I want you to be aware of a worthy health news related website that is looking for help: It’s called HealthNewsReview.org.

HealthNewsReview.org is the brainchild of longtime health reporter Gary Schwitzer. Schwitzer (rhymes with “white-zer”) has spent nearly three decades on the beat–he’s been a print journalist, a radio broadcaster, and has spent time as a TV health reporter. [He was the head of CNN's medical news unit when Sanjay Gupta was still in grade school.]F2.large

During his time at CNN, Schwitzer came to the conclusion that the world of health care journalism had become too inflated with puffery (hear that, Dr. Oz?). Too many stories lack balance: When reporting on new treatments or medicines, news sources omit discussion of harms, costs, and potential side effects. We all like positive stories, but analyzing the health beat revealed far too much unbridled optimism in predicting cures, youth, and vigor.

Schwitzer used the bully pulpit that came with being a professor of journalism at the University of Minnesota to further his views on responsible health reporting. Looking for greater impact, Schwitzer left academe and has devoted his latter career to getting HealthNewsReview.org off the ground, and helping tutor others in the practices of responsible health journalism. He’s built a cadre of two dozen experts who review stories in the lay press and used a set of strict criteria to help separate the wheat from the chaff.

This summer, after seven years online (a millenium in web time!), HealthNewsReview.org lost its foundation funding. Similar efforts in Australia and Canada have fallen into abeyance over non-renewed funding. However, Schwitzer plans to soldier on. He’s no longer able to pay his two dozen or so reviewers, and has thus taken up the load mostly by himself.

This is where you come in. Schwitzer is opening HealthNewsReview.org to ‘crowdsourcing’ of media reviews (news stories, press releases, advertising, marketing, even journal practices). If you’re an avid consumer of health care and/or its literature (or its detritus), send Gary an email (or tell him a story like these two) at Gary [at] HealthNewsReview.org.