Journalists and the media

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QuotationMarkLeft.png In journalism the crowd-pleasing anecdote is king. Evidence is just an unnecessary inconvenience. QuotationMarkRight.png Posting on Doctors net uk[1]

QuotationMarkLeft.png The blunt reality is that the news media craves excitement more than it hungers for truth. QuotationMarkRight.png Stephen Tall [2]

As doctors we need to be able to understand and work with the media.

We need to understand how stories will be presented, and why they, in order to ensure that the interests of our patients, and our own interests, are best presented.


The role of journalists and the media in health scares

There are some excellent journalists publishing factual articles; but there are also many journalists who fail - who wilfully fail, it sometimes seems - to understand evidence. Evidence does not always sell newspapers, but a particular angle on an issue might.

Many journalists are arts graduates, who seem almost proud of their lack of interest in science and the evaluation of evidence. For them, the endorsement of a scientifically illiterate actor or film star carries far more weight than ranks of knoweldgable scientists.[3][4][5][6][7]The role of the media in supporting the antivaccine movement during, for example, the MMR scare, for example, has been much discussed, particularly by Ben Goldacre of "bad science" fame.[8][9][10][11] Yet, while some journalists may deserve a huge amount of the blame for, e.g., the MMR scare, others, such as the aforementioned Goldacre and also Brian Deer[12] have been at the forefront of exposing the scares for what they are.[13][14][15]

Role of Editors and Proprietors

The skills of headline writing and the wordsmith make or break an editor who must also keep the proprietor happy. The proprietor can have other agenda's than money, but editorial copy that does not sell the publication will in the end result in change.

LogoKeyPointsBox.pngJournalists don't write the headline that appears over their copy, headlines are written by sub-editors, or for prominent news stories by the editors, or The Editor

Media training


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