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The influence of medical press releases on news coverage quality

I'm a few days late to this, but a new study (one of particular significance to those of us in the communications field) is demonstrating the important role that press releases can play in getting high-quality, accurate medical information delivered to the public.

In a BMJ paper, Dartmouth researchers identified media coverage of studies appearing in five major medical journals and then analyzed 68 associated journal press releases. They found that high-quality releases - ones that included such information as study limitations - seemed to "make the quality of associated newspaper stories better."

Gary Schwitzer recently wrote on

This is an important contribution to our understanding of the food chain of the dissemination of research news to the American public: medical journals feed journalists who feed the American public what they get out of journals – sometimes driven largely by what’s in journal news releases. If the information at the source is complete and high quality, the flow of information from journalists to the public is more likely to be complete and high quality as well. But this analysis also suggests that “low quality press releases might make (associated newspaper stories) worse.”

Previously: The problem with “science by press conference”
Via Covering Health
Photo by NS Newsflash

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