What Makes Research News?How to
Get Journalists’ Attention NACHRI St. Louis - March 13, 2012 Ivan Oransky, MD Executive Editor, Reuters Health Treasurer, Association of Health Care Journalists Adjunct Assoc. Prof. of Journalism, New York University
Who Covers Health?In a national
survey of U.S. health and medical journalists: • Nearly 70% had at least a bachelor’s degree • 19% reported having a master’s degree; • 4.5% had a doctorate; about 3% were M.D.s • Almost half had a degree in journalism • 13% had a degree in communications • 8% were ‘‘life sciences’’ majors Viswanath K et al: Occupational practices and the making of health news: A national survey of U.S. health and medical science journalists. Journal of Health Communication 2008; 13:759–777.
What is Reuters Health? THREE
WIRES COVERING 110 STUDIES EACH WEEK Reuters Medical News Keeps physicians, researchers and other medicalprofessionals informed of developments in their field Reuters Health eLine Wellness and health care for the general public Reuters Health Industry Briefing Business information for the healthcare community
How Do Others Cover Stories?
Schwitzer G. How do U.S. journalists cover treatments, tests, products, and procedures? An evaluation of 500 stories. PLoS Medicine 2008 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050095
How to Get Reporters’ AttentionFrom:
System AdministratorTo: Oransky, Ivan (M Edit Reu Hlth)Subject: E-mail Quota Warning - Your Mailbox is 80 percent ofits allowable sizeSent: Apr 29, 2011 8:00 PMYour mailbox exceeds 400,000 Kilobytes (KB) in size. Yourmailbox size is currently 510187 KB.When your mailbox size exceeds 500MB, you will be unable tosend mail until enough messages or other items are deleted toreduce the size below 500MB.You will continue to receiveincoming email until your mailbox reaches 1,024MB (1 Gigabyte),at which point all inbound email will be returned to the sender.
Improving Press ReleasesAcademic medical centers
issue a average of 49 press releases/yearAmong 200 randomly selected releases – 87 (44%) promoted animal or laboratory research, of which 64 (74%) explicitly claimed relevance to human health – Among 95 releases about clinical research, 22 (23%) left off study size and 32 (34%) failed to quantify results – 113 releases promoted human research • 17% promoted randomized trials or meta-analyses • 40% reported on uncontrolled interventions, small samples (<30 participants), surrogate primary outcomes, or unpublished data—yet 58% lacked the relevant cautions Woloshin S et al. Press releases by academic medical centers: not so academic? Ann Intern Med 2009;150:613-618
Show ContextIt may take decades
before ocean acidification’s effect onmarine life shows itself. Until then, the past is a good way toforesee the future, says Richard Feely, an oceanographer atthe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration whowas not involved in the study. “These studies give you a senseof the timing involved in past ocean acidification events—theydid not happen quickly,” he said. “The decisions we make overthe next few decades could have significant implications on ageologic timescale.”
What Kinds of Releases Do
Well?10 Most-Visited Stories on EurekAlert! in 2011 1. Genetic research confirms that non-Africans are part Neanderthal University of Montreal 2. New math theories reveal the nature of numbers Emory University 3. Astronomers discover complex organic matter in the universe The University of Hong Kong 4. Mayo Clinic: How patients will respond to immunomodulator therapy for mult Mayo Clinic 5. Worlds smallest frogs discovered in New Guinea Pensoft Publishers
What Kinds of Releases Do
Well?10 Most-Visited Stories on EurekAlert! in 2011 6. Walking through doorways causes forgetting, new research shows University of Notre Dame 7. Taming the flame: Electrical wave blaster could provide new way to extinguis American Chemical Society 8. Effortless sailing with fluid flow cloak Duke University 9. Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in 8 weeks Massachusetts General Hospital 10. Woolly mammoths secrets for shrugging off cold points toward new artificial American Chemical Society
Watch Your Language• Lifestyle/diet –
are they randomized controlled trials, or just observational?• If observational, make the language fit the evidence: – YES: “tied,” “linked” – NO: “reduces,” “causes”
Get to Know AHCJ• >1,200
members in every U.S. state, >25 countries• Strict membership guidelines: Journalists only• Annual conference with workshops, newsmakers, more• Conference partners: NACHRI, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Seattle Children’s Hospital• Website http://www.healthjournalism.org has reporting guides, blog, tipsheets, other resources