Writers and Editors (Pat McNees's blog)
RSS feed

Where journalists get their medical news and information

March 3, 2017

Tags: medical news, health beat, health policy coverage, morning rounds

by Pat McNees (updated 10-7-18) On the "Top of the Morning" page of the Center for Health Journalism, prominent health journalists and experts write what sites, newsletters, and social media feeds they turn to first every morning and why. Below are links to those sites and others, in alphabetical order. Feel free to comment.
• Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ keeps up on important health trends and offers tips on covering specific health and medicine beats) Available to nonmembers also: Covering Health blog. Members can read tips on covering core topics: Aging, health IT, health reform, infectious diseases, insurance, medical studies, oral health, social determinants.
They also ask questions on the AHCJ listserv, where Norman Bauman posted: "I'll repeat the advice I got from a medical librarian: The best place to start is with a review article in the core journals in general medicine -- NEJM, JAMA, Lancet, and BMJ."
• AHCJ daily update (members only, Association of Health Care Journalists)
• Axios (health care newsletter--also news about technology, politics, business)
• California Department of Public Health (main page for news releases--get the news as it comes out)
• California Healthline Daily Edition (a daily digest of California health news and politics)
• California Today (New York Times: news and stories that matter to Californians (and anyone else interested in the state), delivered weekday mornings)
• Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Its Nutrition Action Healthletter covers food safety and nutrition. See CSPI's All Over the Map: A 10-Year Review
of State Outbreak Reporting
(outbreaks of foodborne diseases).
• Charles Ornstein's Nuzzle Morning Health Reads (see newsletter archive, too)
• ClinicalTrials.gov (NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine--a database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world)
• Cochrane Library of systematic reviews
• Commonwealth Fund health system data center and Commonwealth Health Reform Resource Center
• CQ Health Beat (covers health care developments on Capitol Hill, in the federal agencies that cover health and key health care policy developments throughout the states). So doesPolitico Pro.
• EMMA (Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board , "Providing Market Transparency Since 2008) The SEC's free website, created in 2008 to serve as a centralized, online source of information that would empower investors to make independent and informed decisions about buying and selling municipal bonds.
The official source for comprehensive annual financial reports and operating information about any hospital or health care facility financed by public debt. See AHCJ's webcast about it 8-2-18) Covers the finances and debts of hospitals, universities, cities and more. You can sign up for alerts about when the hospitals you care about merge or get downgraded; learn about the performance of some nonprofit organizations, etc.
• FierceHealthcare (healthcare industry news on healthcare reform, health IT, healthcare companies, CMS, managed care, etc.)
• FiveThirtyEight (this links to its science pieces)
• Globe1234.info (Paul Burke's site) is aimed at diligent patients looking for doctors, and trying to understand incentives in the healthcare system. It's also aimed at primary care physicians looking to find details about specialists' practice for various conditions. It covers specialist doctors, generalist doctors, privacy, salt as a nutritional and practical issue, hospitals' financial position, government penalties and incentives. It has a lot of information on Medicare, because of Medicare's pervasive influence on care. See Specialists , for example.
• Google Trends (lets you see what people are searching for in your area; you can also search by topics)
• Health news blogs (blogroll, Covering Health, Association of Health Care Journalists)
• Guidelines.gov (AHRQ's National Guideline Clearinghouse--a public resource for summaries of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
• ***Health News Review Tagline: "Improving your critical thinking about health care." This health journalism watchdog calls out bad reporting and offers tips and resources for reporting on various aspects of health and medicine. Sign up for their weekly digest. Check their list of independent experts. HNR has criteria by which they evaluate news write-ups of academic research. ALERT: With Funding Scarce, HealthNewsReview.org Hurtles Toward Closure (Michael Schulson, Undark, 6-26-18) The long-running consumer watchdog site focused on health and medical news will cease to publish its sometimes biting critiques by year’s end. Gary Schwitzer talked to at least 25 possible funders for @HealthNewsRevu. The response? "Crickets."
•The Hill's healthcare coverage (that's Capitol Hill)
• The Incidental Economist (The health services research blog)
• ***KHN's Morning Briefing. Kaiser Health News's excellent daily summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations--anyone can subscribe to these e-bulletins, which digest and link to news from all major sources.
• Kaiser Health News (KHN, visit this website for the latest news headlines) Neither KHN nor the Kaiser Family Foundation is affiliated with the health insurance company Kaiser Permanente.
• Mayo Clinic (good site for basic information on a topic, including Diseases and Conditions, Symptoms,
Tests and Procedures, Drugs and Supplements.
• MedlinePlus (a free and easy-to-use service of the National Library of Medicine, good for getting a basic overview on a topic). Two main sections:
---Drugs, Herbs, and Supplements
---Health Topics (Body location/systems, Disorders and conditions, Diagnosis and therapy, Demographic groups, Health and wellness, with subcategories under those)
• MedPage Today. You can subscribe to Medpage Today Morning Break
• Medscape (drug and disease reference resource, with some medical news and continuing education, CME)
• Modern Healthcare (good coverage of the industry)
• Morning Consult Health
• Morning Read (National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare)
• Muck Rack Daily (“a snapshot of what journalists around the world are reading, thinking and commenting on right now")
• National Library of Medicine (NIH)
• Newswise (this free service for journalists offers access to embargoed papers in fields from medicine, science, life, and business, through Daily Wire, MedWire, SciWire, LifeWire, BizWire. Explore website for more.
• Obesity and Energetics Offerings (UAB NORC / Office of Energetics). Writes Ivan Oransky, "Every Friday, David Allison and colleagues send out the Obesity and Energetics Offerings newsletter, curating news and analysis about diet and nutrition. One of my favorite sections: "Headline vs. Study." It's quite remarkable how different the two can be."
• Open Payments (CMS.gov) The Open Payments Search Tool is used to search payments made by drug and medical device companies to physicians and teaching hospitals.
• Prescribers Digital Reference , (PDR, by ConnectiveRxwith free search tool, replaces Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR). See Goodbye Physicians’ Desk Reference, hello Prescribers’ Digital Reference! (Wiley).
• Politico Pulse (get the latest in health care policy every weekday morning). For earlier, more in-depth coverage, pay for a subscription to Politico Pro.
• ProMED-mail. Read their digests to keep up with what's happening with infectious diseases.
• ProPublica (Journalism in the Public Interest, keep up with their latest investigations), watch for Charles Ornstein, especially. Watch their series:
---Dollars for Doctors: How Industry Money Reaches Physicians
---The Prescribers: What Doctors Are Prescribing (large quantities of drugs known to be potentially harmful, disorienting or addictive for their patients)
---Wasted Medicine: Squandered Health Care Dollars
---Lost Mothers: Maternal Care and Preventable Deaths
---Patient Safety: Exploring Quality of Care in the U.S.
---When Caregivers Harm: Ameria's Unwatched Nurses
• Psych Central News (psychology and mental health news and access to online mental health resources)
• PubMed (National Library of Medicine's massive database of journal abstracts). Set up keyword alerts for studies etc. in areas you want to follow. See also The Insider's Guide to Accessing NLM Data (learn the basics of APIs, E-utilities, and PubMed).
• PulseNet (CDC), a network of 83 public health and food regulatory laboratories, important for stories about foodborne illness. PulseNet groups together people who most likely ate the same contaminated food, or who were exposed to illness-causing microorganisms in some other way. The network does this by analyzing DNA fingerprinting on the bacteria making people sick, and on the bacteria found in food and the environment. See also CDC info on Food Safety and Challenges in Food Safety..
• Shots (National Public Radio)
• Rough&Tumble (a snapshot of California Public Policy & Politics)
• Science Friday (Ira Flatow's show on NPR) Check out: A Guide to Translating Science to Audio (Aneri Pattani, The Open Notebook, 6-26-18) "Science Friday’s Key to Live Science Radio: Find Guests Who Bring Research to Life."
• Science/Medical Reference (scroll down for long list of helpful links, on Joanne McAndrews site)
• STAT Health News (reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine--with various sections, reporting on various topics). Says Paul Sisson, "Gideon Gil and his crew have made this an important site since they launched it. Lots of deep dives on important topics."
• STAT Morning Rounds (Megan Thielking's daily newsletter on health and medicine)
• STAT: The Readout (comes at 6 a.m. -- what’s new in biotech--a good overview of PhRMA news, and it's how Dan Gorenstein keeps up with Ed Silverman). Sign up for the newsletter.
• Stat Plus. For $$, you can sign up for access to exclusive, in-depth pharma, biotech, business, and policy coverage, keeping you on top of what’s happening in the industry — as it happens)
• To Your Health (Washington Post)
• Twitter Curate your own "follow list" and keep up on breaking stories by your favorite journalists. And follow specific subjects by hashtags (such as #diabetes). You can set up more than one Twitter account.
• UpToDate ("the only clinical decision support resource associated with improved outcomes"). One benefit of AHCJ membership is free access to UpToDate.com, with its which has highly respected overviews of disease and treatment options and lots of citations. Each article has an expert author and editor with whom you can get in touch for further quotes. H/T: Paul Burke.
• The Upshot (analytical journalism, often with graphics, from the New York Times)

See also resources listed here: • Essential medical links for patients, families, and caregivers

Medical journals many healthcare reporters follow include the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM, the most useful),BMJ, Lancet, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), JAMA Internal Medicine, and Annals of Internal Medicine. Also useful: UpToDate (a service that synthesizes the best available research for clinicians--"the only clinical decision support resource associated with improved outcomes"). Healthcare reporters also often reach out to media relations people at hospitals, universities, medical research institutes, public health organizations, and the like.
[Back to Top]


  1. March 31, 2017 11:59 AM EDT
    These sites are worth adding:
    • Retraction Watch Ivan Oransky's excellent blog: Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process. Sign up for his emails. It was from Retraction Watch that I learned about PubPeer.
    • PubPeer, the "online journal club," which allows users to critique published research--a form of post-publication peer review. PubPeer allows anonymous posting.
    • The Web's Faceless Judges (Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, Science, 8-9-13) "Many scientists long for a place for unfettered discussion about published papers, and PubPeer is one of the latest websites trying to fill that gap. These sites can help to clarify experiments, suggest avenues for follow-up work, and catch errors. But PubPeer's founders and most of its commenters choose to remain anonymous, which may foster free discussion but doesn't always elevate it."
    • PubPeer’s secret is out: Founder of controversial website reveals himself (Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, Science, 8-31-15)
    • Nature editors: all hat and no cattle (PubPeer, 12-18-16). Nature offered similar "self-correction of science" and PubPeer argues "that Nature cannot and will not keep those promises, because of editorial and corporate conflicts of interest. At best the promises are wishful thinking and at worst cynical window-dressing."
    - Pat McNees
  2. February 24, 2018 12:26 PM EST
    See also
    • New American Media (NAM, the country's first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2,000 ethnic news organizations. Over 57 million ethnic adults connect to each other, to home countries and to America through 3,000+ ethnic media, the fastest growing sector of American journalism.
    • Generations Beat Online News (GBO News) e-news covering aging for the Journalists Network on Generations, run by Paul Kleyman, an expert on aging.
    • Elder News Roundup ( the latest on research, media reports, or books on aging with quips, quotes and other items of note as spotted by NAM's Paul Kleyman (pkleyman@newamericamedia.org).
    • Ethnic Elders
    - Pat McNees
  3. August 21, 2018 12:51 PM EDT
    "Many of the most popular news stories about health research include overstated findings or substantial inaccuracies, according to a study led by Noah Haber, a postdoctoral researcher at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill....Haber pointed to Health News Review and FiveThirtyEight and The Incidental Economist as online news sites that avoid many common pitfalls of reporting on health research. Health News Review even has criteria by which they evaluate news write-ups of academic research, which reporters might find useful." Covering health research? Choose your studies (and words) wisely (Chloe Reichel, Journalist's Resource, 8-20-18)

    • HealthNewsReview ("improving your critical thinking about health care")
    • The Incidental Economist
    • Five Thirty Eight
    - PM