The split across the different outlets was pretty sharp in the past two days---to write the story as the Wall Street Journal's Amy Dockser Marcus did in the main story, saying as the headline does there is "New Hope in Fatigue Fight," or as Discover did in its blog, saying "Chronic Fatigue Debate goes on."
Headlines went both ways, and so did ledes--emphasize the finding first, or emphasize the debate? At the Wall Street Journal, the story runs into the tenth paragraph before the debate appears. But then, a little later in the day, the Journal ran a separate piece about the debate and the fact that the study's publication had been held up by possible conflicting evidence. The Discover blog hit the hardest on the debate question, with a listing high up in the story of each negative and positive finding and it's date.
That story also pointed up a problem with the "good news" version of the story. The good news was said to be that the latest report found a family of viruses associated with Chronic Fatigue also found by previous research. But is the family connection actually important? Previous work found XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus) and this one found MRV (Murine-leukemia-virus-related virus). There were also questions of how different the patients were in this study and previous studies.
The scientists themselves were cautious. Dr. Harvey Alter, the lead author on the paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences yesterday, said "It's an association, but that's all it is." He said much more work is needed.
On the other hand, patients and some doctors are convinced enough already to be advocating trials using antiviral drugs to see if they help. Some patients have said they are already on the drugs.