Minnesota, Medicine, and Medtronic
The Star Tribune reported Tuesday that a recent medical study has found certain drugs are as effective as stents in preventing heart attacks and helping heart-disease sufferers live longer. The study, while certainly important in most medical circles, probably did not recieve significant coverage in many metropolitan papers. The differing factor for the Twin Cities, however, is that it serves as an international hub for medical research and medical-device production. As the headquarters for Medtronic, a important site for Boston Scientific research and production, and the the homebase of University of Minnesota medical research, it is explainable that this story would merit broader coverage in the Star Tribune and other local publications. In Minnesota, at least, the effect of such a study goes beyond the medical implications, but expands to the reality of a possible economic impact. As a potential precursor to the way doctors around the world respond to heart conditions, the study could ultimately affect job lose and production decreases here in Minnesota (For example, Boston Scientific's stent product is currently produced in Maple Grove) This explains why the story ran as a small excerpt on the front page as well as the top story in the daily Business section as opposed to perhaps waiting for the weekly Health section. In this instance, the Star Tribune has exhibited an adhearance to one of journalism's key mantras: the importance of locality, and its subsequent effect on relevance.
The study was conducted at the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans, and featured patients from across the United States and Canada. Therefore, not surprisingly, the story was not covered locally, but instead was plucked from a newswire service. In the paper, the story is listed in its byline as a Bloomberg Newswire article, but also credits Star Tribune staff reporter Janet Moore for addtions to the wire version (a practice not uncommon in attempt to localize a national story). It is not clear exactly which parts Moore contributed to give the story a Minnesota pertinence, but some parts stand out as localized additions. For example, the fact that Boston Scientific produces its stents in Maple Grove, Minn., most likely would never appear in a national version of the story. Check out the CNN.com version of the story to note the differences.
As a whole, the The Star Tribune coverage was done very well. The story included the local business angle while still sharing the medical importance as well. My one complaint would be that the story failed to mention Medtronic (Arguuably the Twin Cities biggest and most important name in medicine) until the second-to-last paragraph. In today's attention-deficit media culture, it has been established that almost all newspaper readers fail to read an article from beginning to completion. This indicates an even greater need to stress the importance of including the most imperative facts toward the beginning of the story, which in this instance should have included the affect the study might have on Medtronic.