I’m happy to report breaking news from a good friend of the Tracker, Gary Schwitzer, who for years has rivaled (more likely, exceeded!) the Tracker in the ferocity with which he attacks bad medical reporting.
From his email this morning:
I can’t quite divulge details yet, but after 17 months with no funding for this project, I will announce new funding for this project probably the next time I write you – in December. Many plans in the works for 2015.
Schwitzer, a former medical correspondent for CNN and former journalism professor at the University of Minnesota, established his project–HealthNewsReview.org–in 2006 with a team of more than two dozen doctors, reporters, and others to provide formal reviews of medical news.
HealthNewsReview won numerous awards, and, more importantly, kept many medical reporters on their toes–including me. Schwitzer launched the site with support from the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation. Sadly, the foundation ended its support on July 1, 2013, and Schwitzer was forced to drop the formal reviews. He has, however, continued to keep a critical eye on medical reporting with his personal blog, the Health News Watchdog blog.
Soon, however, the operation will be back with the reviews, an expanded team of reviewers, and a new website. “It is so exciting to know that I’ll be able to fire up the old team and add some new contributors–including some journalism and academic names you know and respect–to both our story reviews and to my blog,” Schwitzer told me in an email. “I am so grateful for all of the support that our users have expressed through our entire 8 year run, and especially through the last difficult 17 months…I really thought this project was dead and that I was headed to the cabin and retirement.”
In addition to reviewing stories, Schwitzer and his team also established a scorecard of about 10 items to rate stories. I wrote here in 2012 that I thought Schwitzer’s criteria for judging stories “ought to be printed on wallet cards for reporters, like Miranda warnings, to remind them what questions to ask.”
It’s great to see Schwitzer back. Although there is a downside–I, and many of my colleagues, will once again be looking nervously over our shoulders.
But that’s not so bad–our reporting will surely be the better for it.