Journalists’ health reporting falls short


Frequently health articles are headlined with words that promote the understanding of possibility as oppose to fact.  The New York Times published many health articles this week.  All of the titles follow this patter.

Commonly used headline words are qualifiers such as “might,” “sometimes” and “most likely.”  Sometimes the headlines are even in the form of questions.

Similarly, when there is a possible cure to an illness, the hypothesis/abstract of the study or experiment is condensed into the title. This discusses the possibility of a cure being discovered/invented.

For example, “When a Spouse Dies, Resilience Can Be Uneven,” “Why Do Obese Patients Get Worse Care?,” “Too Old to Donate Blood?, Immunity Offers Hope to a Cancer Patient,” but there is no certainty.

Scientists as well as the news media do not want to make a statement of fact in case the statement is wrong or simply the “cure” is not successful for everyone.

Journalists, the news media and the scientists/doctors do this to engage and educate people in present day tests,studies, and theories. The article headlines are good at attracting the readers. But almost every article is listing and discussing facts about the respective illness or topic while explaining the thought process and potential outcome.

This is opposed to actually discussing the cure or solution, which would educate the public.

Instead, so many of these types of articles are published that the meaning and purpose lose credibility and causes discussion and confusion.