Observations Media watch

Journalists: anything to declare?

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39328.450000.59 (Published 06 September 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:480
  1. Ben Goldacre, doctor and writer, London
  1. ben{at}badscience.net

    Drug companies wouldn't pay for the media to attend their events if they didn't think it would affect coverage, yet journalists' competing interests usually remain undeclared

    Much as I like to think that I am cynical and worldly, being a doctor and a journalist, the world still holds some surprises for me. Conflict of interest is a subject that creates heat and concern, not least among journalists, who often stumble on a banal and openly declared interest and use it to build fantasies of medical corruption and Pulitzer prizes.

    Although there is good evidence for the venality of drug companies in the way they conduct their public relations—and the success of this PR in influencing published academic work—it is often tempting to point out that the entire culture of academic funding has changed over the past 20 years and that politicians, journalists, and the public themselves might take some responsibility for the fact that governments choose not to fund academic work.

    But that's a digression. Given the puritanical stance of so many journalists, I was …

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