Paid Health News: Blurring the Line Between News and PR

It seems that much of the health and medical news published in major news outlets today derives from company press releases, corporate sponsored studies, or even stories produced directly by saavy PR agencies.

News agencies summarize studies published in respected medical journals, and some stories come from other more dubious sources. Often, studies themselves are funded by corporate interest that stand to benefit directly from the proliferation of a whole new surge of “news” on a particular topic.

Gary Schwitzer, publisher of Health News Review, writes on his health news blog:

“I always talk a great deal with my students about the blurred line between news and advertising in many settings these days. Now some of my past students are seeing it for themselves…

For whatever reason, a disproportionate share of one year’s graduating class is working in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where today the Argus Leader newspaper reports: “a local television affiliate is ramping up its health care coverage, thanks to a partnership with Avera Health.”

As publisher of, Schwitzer’s goal for the organization is “improving the accuracy of news stories about medical treatments, tests and procedures, and helping consumers evaluate the evidence for and against new ideas in health care.”

Read more about sponsored health news stories from Gary Schwitzer’s blog.

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