Medical journalists are beleaguered practitioners in today's fourth estate. They live with near-instantaneous deadlines for plucking the sound bite of the day from the cacophony of good and bad science that wells up in our literature. They are rewarded for creating the scare of the week. They are afforded so little time to dig into topics that a quotable statement from whoever is the most available expert is sufficient for validation and verification. They march to multiple drums: deadlines, editorial demands to “dumb it down,” and producers who insist they infuse their coverage with energy. There may even be implicit constraints on investigative reporting not to bite the hands that feed them—no mean task given the marketing budgets of the biomedical industry. I have empathy for these journalists and disdain for the institution that requires them to sacrifice content to dissemination. It is the same emotion I have for clinicians whose feet are held to the fire of “throughput.”
Hadler NM. Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer. JAMA. 2007;298(17):2070–2075. doi:10.1001/jama.298.17.2071-a
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