Sorting Through "Miracle, Breakthrough and Cure" Health News

HealthNewsReview.Org is a news review website that gives grades for health news reporting.

I stumbled upon this website today and fell in love with it.

It is often said that when reporting on health, political, entertainment or financial news, journalists can easily spin a story to make its message slant in a particular way. Usually to make the story seem more dramatic, groundbreaking and entertaining than it actually is.

The website reviews hardcore health news. They don't embrace fluff news articles on say, 'breakthrough' anti-aging skin masks or 'miracle' supplements to make your nails grow. They review articles discussing life-threatening or saving treatments and studies.

It is fascinating to see what stories they rank as five stars, and what stories can get a dismal zero stars as well.

A few of the zero star rated news stories includes a report by CBS News' The Early Show, called "Thin People Can Be Fat" that suggests that "normal weight obesity" has the same health risks associated with traditional obesity such as heart disease and diabetes. Thus, this is a zero star story.

I find perusing these zero star stories to be a very eye opening experience.

An interesting commentary article on the site describes the seven terms a journalist should never use in medical reporting.
The words:
• Cure
• Miracle
• Breakthrough
• Promising
• Dramatic
• Hope
• Victim

So just who has the audacity to rate professionally written health news reports?

Gary Schwitzer, that's who. (Pictured above)

HealthNewsReview.org is published by Professor Gary Schwitzer.

Gary specialized in health care journalism in his 30-year career. He joined the faculty of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota in Fall 2001, and is director of graduate studies for the School's MA in Health Journalism program. I was impressed by the fact that Schwitzer was the founding Editor-In-Chief of the MayoClinic.com consumer health web site. As a young health promotion college student, I often used MayoClinic articles to research reports and papers. Today's students should look into using healthnewsreview.org.

I suggest checking out this site. If anything, you will learn a bit about what makes for a sound news report, and be able to predict a spun story from a mile away.

HealthNewsReview.org

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