Friday, July 24, 2009

By Stuart Chaifetz

In the spirit of the Summer movie season, and its long history of producing sequels and trilogies, I would like to offer a third and final take on stories of research ‘breakthroughs’ being front page news, while failures are either never reported, or are dumped into the business section (grab a keg of soda and a garbage bag full of popcorn that cost more than the computer I am writing on if you really want to get that movie theater experience while reading this).

In the course of my research on this issue, I found one exception to the rule that is stated above: For the first and perhaps last time, in May of 1998, scrutiny was poured over a front page story that over-promoted a supposed cure for cancer.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

By Stuart Chaifetz

Front Page Hype - Back Page Reality

Part II

In my last blog, I wrote about how news stories of supposed research breakthroughs burst through on the front page, while deaths due to pharmaceutical drugs are usually sent to the business section.

I want to focus a bit more on some of those front page headlines, but first, a comment on why I believe these type of stories have become so prevalent, yet there is almost never any follow up to see if these ‘miracle cures’ actually work.

It’s because our memory retention is awful. You, me, reporters and the media, politicians, all of us; unless a story touches us deeply and personally, we tend to forget what the media craze of the day is once it is replaced by the next one.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

By Stuart Chaietz

Front Page Hype - Back Page Reality
Part I
When animal experimenters create monkeys with glowing feet (as we recently saw) or whatever the horror of the week is, the story is carried front and center in newspapers and on television. When no new breakthroughs occur - or worse - when people become ill or die from drugs tested on animals, the stories, if carried at all, are usually tucked away in the business section. Placed here, the major aspect of interest becomes the decline of the value of the pharmaceutical company, not of the individuals who have died or of the effect on their families.

A case in point is this story, from Monday, reporting on a drug called Tysabri, and that a tenth patient taking it has “developed a potentially deadly brain infection.” Something as serious as this should get prime news retail space, but when you look on the news site where it’s posted, you have to follow this path to find it: “Home > Business & Finance > Industries > Healthcare > Article.”