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February 19, 1992

Reporting Negative Studies in the Mass Media

Author Affiliations

Wall Street Journal New York, NY

JAMA. 1992;267(7):930. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480070046015

To the Editor.  —It was personally pleasing that Koren and Klein1 gave such high marks to the Wall Street Journal coverage of the two JAMA articles2,3 on radiation exposure and cancer risks. But to those of us in the news business, their finding that newspapers are biased against negative medical studies seems obvious and the reason for it quite simple.At any newspaper or magazine published for the profit of its owners, the first and foremost criterion for deciding whether to publish a story is whether it contains information that readers would like to know. In the matter of the two JAMA articles,2,3 the Wall Street Journal gave equal coverage to both studies because it has many readers in labor, industry, government, business, and the professions who have a vested interest in keeping up with the latest scientific findings—positive and negative—on the controversy over the effects