Journalists risk becoming unwitting mouthpieces for those with vested interests in their story. (Illustration: Scott Mickelson)
TV reporters rarely cover medicine exclusively--one day its finance, the next its health. (Illustration: Giovanni Maki)
"Reporters are surpassing doctors as a source of health information," says Maria Simbra, a medical reporter for KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, United States, and a practicing physician, in a special debate in this month’s issue of the open access international medical journal PLoS Medicine.
For the debate, PLoS Medicine invited health journalists worldwide to give their views on the role that the media should play in spreading health messages to the public.
In her commentary, Simbra says that the lack of special training for medical journalists, and the pressure from the media to produce sensational and definitive information quickly, means that medical news is often simplified. "There’s a disconnect between what station management values, what the reporters need, and what the viewers get."
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