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A good way to establish the credibility of an online news startup is to hire somebody with a solid journalism reputation--somebody like Bill Keller, a former executive editor of The New York Times who now holds the prestigious post of Op-Ed columnist. But Keller, perched in his...

A good way to establish the credibility of an online news startup is to hire somebody with a solid journalism reputation--somebody like Bill Keller, a former executive editor of The New York Times who now holds the prestigious post of Op-Ed columnist. But Keller, perched in his chair in the Times tower, would never do it, right?

Wrong. Keller has just signed on as the first editor-in-chief at the Marshall Project, a news startup devoted to coverage of the U.S. criminal justice system.

The Marshall Project, which plans to launch in the middle of this year, was established by Neil Barsky, a former reporter for the New York Daily News and The Wall Street Journal and co-founder of the hedge fund Midtown Capital, according to his Marshall Project bio.

The hiring of Keller gives the site instant visibility and...

[Thanks to Gary Schwitzer of HealthNewsReview.org for alerting me to this. See his post here. Also, see his guest post ...

[Thanks to Gary Schwitzer of HealthNewsReview.org for alerting me to this. See his post here. Also, see his guest post responding to this one.]

 

Did you hear the one about Pfizer's new drug for advanced breast cancer?

It goes something like this: A new Pfizer drug combined with an existing cancer drug "achieved its primary endpoint by demonstrating a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in progression-free survival" in certain cases of advanced or metastatic breast cancer. "We are delighted with the final data, which suggest the potential for palbociclib to transform the standard of care for post-menopausal women with ER+ and HER2- advanced breast cancer," a Pfizer vice president said in a company...

Is sugar toxic? To lose weight, do we reduce the carbs in our diet, or the fat? Why do many people find it easy to lose weight, but nearly impossible to keep it off?

These are the some of the nutrition-related questions that the journalist Gary Taubes has addressed more assiduously than...

Is sugar toxic? To lose weight, do we reduce the carbs in our diet, or the fat? Why do many people find it easy to lose weight, but nearly impossible to keep it off?

These are the some of the nutrition-related questions that the journalist Gary Taubes has addressed more assiduously than probably any other science reporter in the country in recent years. On Sunday, in a piece in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times, he gives us the answers to these and similar questions. But not the answers we might like.

The answer to many of these questions, Taubes writes, is: We don't know. That's despite what he says are more than 600,000 articles on obesity or diabetes (a frequent consequence of obesity). Taubes:

Because...

The front page of The New York Times on Monday carried a story by Gina Kolata that told a compelling tale of a woman with a deadly genetic disease...

The front page of The New York Times on Monday carried a story by Gina Kolata that told a compelling tale of a woman with a deadly genetic disease who was able to have children knowing they did not carry the lethal gene. The children were conceived through in-vitro fertilization and tested for the gene before unaffected embryos were implanted.

This is not a new development. The idea of testing embryos for genetic diseases before implantation has been around for more than 20 years. Yet the Times put it on the front page.

The only explanation I can think of is that Kolata's evocative writing seduced her editors into thinking it was a new story. She followed a heartwarming lead anecdote with the Big Questions. The procedure, she...

For more than 20 years, we have been hearing charges and counter-charges concerning alleged sexual abuse by Woody Allen of Dylan Farrow, a daughter he adopted with Mia Farrow. Dylan, now 28, is an artist and writer living in Florida under a different name.

The charges were never resolved. But now Allen has...

For more than 20 years, we have been hearing charges and counter-charges concerning alleged sexual abuse by Woody Allen of Dylan Farrow, a daughter he adopted with Mia Farrow. Dylan, now 28, is an artist and writer living in Florida under a different name.

The charges were never resolved. But now Allen has been effectively accused of child abuse again in the pages of The New York Times, in a harsh and deeply misguided column by Nicholas Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner known for his support of human rights and children in such dangerous places as Chad and Darfur.

On Feb. 1, with no more legal evidence than what was available 20 years ago, Kristof wrote in his column, "When evidence is ambiguous, do we really need to leap to our feet and lionize an alleged molester?" The column was prompted...

Guest post by Maia Szalavitz: What Journalists Can Do to Fight Opioid Addiction
Paul Raeburn
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[Ed. note: Maia Szalavitz is a health writer at TIME.com who regularly writes about drug addiction. She is also the co-author, with Bruce Perry, MD, PhD, of "Born for Love:  Why Empathy is Essential-- And Endangered" and the author of "Help At Any Cost:  How the Troubled-Teen Industry...

[Ed. note: Maia Szalavitz is a health writer at TIME.com who regularly writes about drug addiction. She is also the co-author, with Bruce Perry, MD, PhD, of "Born for Love:  Why Empathy is Essential-- And Endangered" and the author of "Help At Any Cost:  How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids."]

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s overdose death has hit nearly everyone affected by addiction hard, including this former heroin addict. But while I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see how good much of the coverage has been, unfortunately, journalism still has a long way to go before it can truly serve the public interest by providing accurate, fair and useful coverage of addiction and drugs.

First, the good stuff.  The New Republic,...

How good must heroin feel? Good enough to abandon three children? Good enough to abandon friends, other family members, professional colleagues, and a brilliant career?

I should be angry at Philip Seymour Hoffman for doing what he's done to his children. But I'm not. I'm just sad. He was one of...

How good must heroin feel? Good enough to abandon three children? Good enough to abandon friends, other family members, professional colleagues, and a brilliant career?

I should be angry at Philip Seymour Hoffman for doing what he's done to his children. But I'm not. I'm just sad. He was one of my favorite actors, somebody I thought of as a personal favorite. It wasn't until he died that I discovered he was everybody's favorite.

Now I'm sorry that I never saw him onstage. I'm sorry that he won't make the movies he could have continued to make for years to come. Mostly I'm moved by the pain that Hoffman must have experienced--the craving, the attempts to fight it, failing again and again. I'm sad that he chose to experience heroin rather than to experience all the things he will now miss, including watching his children grow up, and performing.

What makes somebody do that? Are we all walking the same razor's edge, only...

On Jan. 19, the journal Nature published two studies (here and here) showing that it's possible to make stem cells by putting adult cells in an...

On Jan. 19, the journal Nature published two studies (here and here) showing that it's possible to make stem cells by putting adult cells in an acidic environment. That's good news. But how good? Here are my top 10 words or phrases to describe the findings:

10. The Wall Street Journal: "unexpected."

9. Nature "surprisingly simple." The New York Times: "...

In 2011, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health claimed to find that Transcendental Meditation could reduce risk of death, heart attack, and stroke in African-Americans with heart disease, according to a press release. The study had a lovely pedigree: It was funded by the National Institutes of Health...

In 2011, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health claimed to find that Transcendental Meditation could reduce risk of death, heart attack, and stroke in African-Americans with heart disease, according to a press release. The study had a lovely pedigree: It was funded by the National Institutes of Health, and a version of it had been presented at the annual scientific sessions of the American Heart Association.

But there was one thing: The study came not from a traditional university, but from the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management in Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa.

Twelve minutes before the study was scheduled to be published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine, it was suddenly withdrawn. The explanation was that the authors had presented the journal with new data that would have to be reviewed before the study could...

Stephen Glass, the disgraced former journalist who fabricated stories in the 1990s and was forced out of journalism, was denied admission to the California bar on Monday.

The state Supreme Court "sided with the State Bar, which opposed his fitness to be a lawyer in California by arguing that he does not...

Stephen Glass, the disgraced former journalist who fabricated stories in the 1990s and was forced out of journalism, was denied admission to the California bar on Monday.

The state Supreme Court "sided with the State Bar, which opposed his fitness to be a lawyer in California by arguing that he does not meet the 'moral character' standards required of lawyers," Howard Mintz reported at the San Jose Mercury News.

I can hear the lawyer jokes already. Moral character standards for lawyers? Are you kidding? Before we go there, we might remember that some would ask the same questions regarding journalists. The real question is: Does Glass's punishment fit the crime?

Glass has been pursuing a law license for years, and he has received support from some legal scholars, although others have...

Raeburn's rule #56: When a treatment is claimed to be effective in the treatment of multiple, unrelated illnesses and conditions, you can be almost certain it isn't effective in any of them.

I put "chiropractic infrared light therapy brain" into Google, and on...

Raeburn's rule #56: When a treatment is claimed to be effective in the treatment of multiple, unrelated illnesses and conditions, you can be almost certain it isn't effective in any of them.

I put "chiropractic infrared light therapy brain" into Google, and on the first page of results, I got links to the use of infrared therapy for plantar fasciitis, heel pain, Alzheimer's dementia, arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, diabetic ulcers, multiple sclerosis, concussion, injuries, wounds, and to improve the brain-body connection.

My expert opinion, therefore, is that you should be a little...

After spending days refusing to respond to the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette's efforts to learn more about the contaminants in West Virginia's water, a CDC official acknowledged Wednesday that “government officials could have moved more quickly in issuing an advisory that pregnant women...

After spending days refusing to respond to the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette's efforts to learn more about the contaminants in West Virginia's water, a CDC official acknowledged Wednesday that “government officials could have moved more quickly in issuing an advisory that pregnant women drink only bottled water” and “could have communicated the uncertainties more carefully,” according to Gazette reporter Ken Ward Jr.

The update on the West Virginia situation comes from Felice J. Freyer, a medical writer for the Providence (R.I.) Journal and the vice chair of the Right to Know Committee of the Association of Health Care Journalists. After my first post, I asked Freyer and Right to Know Committee chair Irene Wielawski...

Last year was a hot year: The fourth hottest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the seventh hottest according to NASA, which uses slightly different calculations.

But how hot is the news?

Not too hot if you read The New York Times, which...

Last year was a hot year: The fourth hottest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the seventh hottest according to NASA, which uses slightly different calculations.

But how hot is the news?

Not too hot if you read The New York Times, which ran this story by Justin Gillis:

Two government agencies said Tuesday that 2013 was among the warmest years in the global temperature record, though they differed on exactly where it ranked. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ranked it as the fourth-warmest year since 1880, tied with 2003. NASA, which uses slightly different methods to compile global temperatures, ranked 2013 as the seventh-warmest year, tied with both 2006 and 2009. Both agencies say that the 14 warmest years in the historical record have...

The feds are still dodging the Charleston Gazette's requests for information on the toxic water spill in West Virginia.

Last Thursday, I wrote that the Gazette--frustrated by the lack of a response to repeated calls...

The feds are still dodging the Charleston Gazette's requests for information on the toxic water spill in West Virginia.

Last Thursday, I wrote that the Gazette--frustrated by the lack of a response to repeated calls left for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)--reached the CDC's director at home. He promptly booted them to the press office. That didn't seem to be the way an important public health agency should act during a public health emergency.

After I posted, I asked Irene Wielawski and Felice Freyer, the co-chairs of the Right to Know Committee of the Association of Health Care Journalists, whether they could shed any light on the CDC's behavior. Wielawski contacted the Department of Health and Human Services, where she reached Mark Weber of public affairs.

She emailed me to tell me what he had told her. He said the department held a...

Tabitha M. Powledge of On Science Blogs has some sort of obsession with the number of bacteria enfolded in each of us. She can't let it go. But she must. Apparently, the "fact" that nine out of ten cells in our bodies are microbes is not a fact after all,...

Tabitha M. Powledge of On Science Blogs has some sort of obsession with the number of bacteria enfolded in each of us. She can't let it go. But she must. Apparently, the "fact" that nine out of ten cells in our bodies are microbes is not a fact after all, she writes.

Brace yourself: It looks like the correct ratio is 3 microbes for every human cell. "I am a bit mournful about this development," Powledge writes. "The idea of 10 microbes to every human cell is so much cooler than only 3 to 1."

And cool is what it's all about.

Fortunately, she's able to recover enough to point us to some interesting posts on how tweets affect a scientific paper's impact and whether vitamin E can slow the decline of Alzheimer's patients.

She also explores the not-exactly-accurate announcement by Illumina that it can...

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