Physician-bioethicist Jeffrey Hall Dobken suggests that "perhaps we can tone down the sky-is-falling just a bit" on H1N1. And he includes news coverage in his review of the "tension...reinforced by the endless health warnings."
Recently in H1N1 Category
CBS News last night proclaimed the drug peramavir as a "lifesaving drug" for serious cases of H1N1 infection.
Lines from the story:
• "Experts caution its too early to see Peramivir as a miracle drug, but there's no doubting the drugs connection to some miraculous results."
• "Human clinical trials in the U.S. and Japan have called Peramivir safe and effective."
But not one shred of evidence was provided.
Instead, the story used the framing that the FDA was dragging its feet - as the website subheading read: "Doctors Say Intravenous Drug Peramivir Effective in Serious Cases; But It's in Trials and FDA Makes Few Exceptions"
Folks: it's the trials that determine benefits and harms. Not hyperbole about people being deprived of a wonder drug. Data - evidence - is what counts, and CBS didn't provide any in this story.
CBS' Harry Smith.
CNN's Sanjay Gupta.
Some UK reporter.
Hasn't anyone from The Onion been stricken yet?
Stay tuned for next week's episode: "The cure for journalistic narcissism."
As our review on HealthNewsReview.org said...
The story noted that people should make vaccination decisions with good information. Unfortunately it didn't provide much. A confusing jumble lacking appropriate context.
Interesting look at international coverage of the H1N1 flu story in a new analysis by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.
They studied 12 days of front-page newspaper coverage in seven countries around the world.
Key points from their summary:
• The three major U.S. papers studied offered some of the broadest coverage of the outbreak of any country studied, and all stories were staff-generated, as opposed to wire copy. Despite complaints in some quarters of excessive media hype, the level of coverage was relatively moderate when matched up against the number of confirmed U.S. cases.
• The number of cases of swine flu in a given country had little to do with the volume of coverage around the world. China, for example, had the fewest confirmed cases of any of the countries studied (1), but the paper studied, People’s Daily, offered about as much front-page coverage as the average paper in the U.S., which had over 2000 cases.
• In Mexico, extensive coverage by El Universal (20 front-page stories over the 12 days) cut across a broad range of issues, from the impact on businesses to the history of the virus. But the Mexican paper largely skipped any close assessment of its own government’s response.
• The French paper Le Figaro was more restrained but also controversial in its coverage. The paper ran just two stories on the front pages, but sparked an outcry by terming the outbreak “the Mexican flu.”
• In the Spanish-language papers in the U.S., one of the most striking findings was a heavy reliance by two of the three—El Diario and El Nuevo Herald—on U.S. wire service copy to fill their pages.