Decline of Health Care News Reporting in NC

In case you missed it, Ferrel Guillory’s piece in the most recent NC Medical Journal, “Weaker Media, Weaker Health Care News Reporting,” gives an overview of the problems news organizations in NC and across the nation are facing. Guillory spoke to many different people and did an overview of the research to present a picture of how the financial troubles in the media industry are making themselves felt in coverage of one of today’s top policy topics.

5 Comments

  1. I Miss Tinker Ready

    October 13, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I miss Tinker Ready, she was the last investigative health reporter that the N and O employed.

  2. Adam Searing

    October 13, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Jean Fisher and Cathy Clabby were both great business and policy of health care reporters at the N+O too.

  3. I Miss Tinker Ready

    October 13, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    here is a link for a recent article by Tinker at her Boston Health News:

    http://tinkerready.wordpress.com/2009/10/07/biotech-boss-fakes-cancer-to-avoid-feds/

    Can you imagine the N and O in its current sad state running anything this hard hitting?

  4. Tinker Ready

    October 16, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Thanks for remembering me. I’m still at it.

    But Ferrel’s right. The decline of newspapers has hurt health reporting because there are fewer people devoted to it. There are fewer health sections. We now have sites like Kaiser Health News and niche sites like Mass Device, which covers the medical device industry in the state. Public radio and the national papers do a good job. But, who is keeping tabs on local hospitals, medical schools, state health departments and drug company clusters? These are complex, high-stakes institutions. Reporters covering them need to know how to follow the money, dig though public documents and scrutinize new research and procedures. They need to describe both the wonder and the dysfunction of the health care system. It is not an easy job.

    I would like to say that I wrote that hard-hitting story on the biotech malingerer. But, I just linked to it. Like most bloggers, I mostly point to the work of others. I do a little reporting but I would be lost without the Globe, WBUR and other local publications. Like others, I’m looking for new ways to do my reporting. For now, I teach, freelance and blog on the side. Unless I find generous sponsor, it is unlikely my blog will replace what we are losing — full-time, experienced, professional health reporters. Fortunately, we still have a few good ones here in Boston. But, the smaller markets are in trouble.

  5. Charles Malone

    October 19, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Ferrell Guillory does a good job in detailing the decline of print journalism as a profitable business. He explains why the decline has an especially harmful affect on local coverage of health issues. It is a sad portrait of cause and effect in a profession that has to make a profit to survive. In such a vacuum, other mediums spring up, some good, and some not so good.

    The newspaper should be the definitive word on public life. But it is not the case, anymore. Finding the truth of the matter is now a more elusive journey. We must simply be discerning and willing to search hither and yon to find out what we need to know. And in that search, we should not let our disappointment in what is wrong with the system outweigh our determination to be better researchers.

    Charles Malone
    Raleigh