Reviews Website of the week

Website gives media the tough treatment

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7458.178 (Published 15 July 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:178
  1. Melissa Sweet (sweetcom@tig.com.au), freelance journalist specialising in health and medicine
  1. Australia

    Many doctors and scientists have long been concerned about the quality of medical reporting. Now, in a direct response to what they see as spin and distortion, a group of academics and clinicians in Australia has launched a website that evaluates media coverage of new medical treatments. Their particular goal is to counter the public relations blitz that often accompanies product launches.

    The website (http://www.mediadoctor.org.au/), which went live two weeks ago, evaluates press articles using a three-star rating system and criteria that include how benefits, harms, and costs are reported, as well as the independence of information sources, and whether there is any disease mongering.

    Its founders, from the Newcastle Institute of Public Health in New South Wales, hope to raise awareness among journalists and media managers of weaknesses in their coverage and encourage more comprehensive reporting.

    The website compares the performance of various media outlets, with the aim, once enough stories are analysed, of feeding back comparative data to each outlet.

    The group's spokesman, Professor David Henry, professor of clinical pharmacology at the University of Newcastle, said that unlike …

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