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Writers and Editors (RSS feed)

Where journalists get their medical news and information

by Pat McNees (updated from original 2017 post)


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. Here below are links to those sites and others, in alphabetical order. Feel free to comment. See also Why Bolstering Trust in Journalism Could Help Strengthen Trust in Medicine (Vineet M. Arora, David Rousseau, and Gary Schwitzer, Trust in Health Care, JAMA Network, 5-13-19) and 7 ways journalists can access academic research for free (Denise-Marie Ordway, Journalist's Resource, 9-21-18) In addition, of course, journalists get original material by interviewing experts, witnesses, victims, and other participants in world and daily events.

Ag Insider Daily (Food & Reporting Network) FERN's morning brief offering daily reporting and analysis on food, agriculture and the environment. 
• Alerts about embargoed studies from various journals and organizations, including JAMA, Pediatrics, the American Heart AssociationNewswise (a free service for journalists that offers access to embargoed papers in fields ranging from climate change science to specific medical fields.
American Heart Association newsroom.
Association of Health Care Journalists AHCJ keeps up on important health trends and offers tips on covering specific health and medicine beats. As a member, sign up for its AHCJ daily update. Also available to nonmembers, its 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." Joseph Burns, an insurance topic leader for AHCJ, mentioned several publications listed here and recommended for their coverage of health the New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.
AHCJ daily update (members only, Association of Health Care Journalists)
Axios (health care newsletter--also news about technology, politics, business). See especially Bob Herman at Axios

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Becker's Hospital Review (a trade magazine that's good for business stories on the hospital industry)
Blogs and short-form writing about medicine, health, and science (Writers and Editors)
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) Follow California Healthline (CHL) on Facebook and Twitter for latest updates.
California Today (New York Times: news and stories that matter to Californians (and anyone else interested in the state), delivered weekday mornings)
The Center for Public Integrity (a nonprofit investigative journalism organization whose stated mission is "to reveal abuses of power, corruption and dereliction of duty by powerful public and private institutions in order to cause them to operate with honesty, integrity, accountability and to put the public interest first."
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).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Central U.S. source for health information, including data and info sheets on issues ranging from flu cases to wildfire prevention.
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
Cochran Review Search its Plain Language Summaries of health evidence.
Commonwealth Fund health system data center and Commonwealth Health Reform Resource Center
Covering Health Issues: A Sourcebook for Journalists (free online, Alliance for Health Reform) Essentials of health policy.

Covid coverage
---CDC's Covid Data Tracker Weekly Review
--- Tips for untangling COVID-19 data from WSJ data ace Paul Overberg (Giles Bruce, Center for Health Journalism, 7-23-20)
---Expert insight and resources for covering Paxlovid and other COVID-19 treatments (Bara Vaida and Kerry Dooley Young, Covering Health, AHCJ, 6-27-22) At the bottom of the post is a list of media-friendly experts that could helping writing a story about COVID treatments.
---Omicron subvariants “of concern” drive surge in cases and reinfection rates (Bara Vaida, Covering Health, 7-18-22). More experts listed at end of piece.

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 does Politico Pro.

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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)
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.
Environmental Health News (EHN),a roundup of environmental health news from around the world, including op-eds from scientists and journalists.
Ethnic Elders

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Facebook and other social media. How to Find Patient Stories on Social Media (Katherine J. Wu, The Open Notebook, 8-11-2020) Experienced reporters share their tips for using social media to find patients respectfully and with care and about which platform most often leads to success. Working through physicians, local health leaders, patient advocacy groups and even conferences are traditional and often productive ways to find sources, but increasingly reporters are turning to social media to find patient voices for their stories and to amplify voices from tough-to-access, vulnerable, and marginalized communities and about sensitive topics like medical conditions and treatment options such as fecal transplants.
FierceHealthcare (healthcare industry news on healthcare reform, health IT, healthcare companies, CMS, managed care, etc.)
FiveThirtyEight (this links to its science pieces)
FluView (CDC's weekly data-driven report on the current status of this year's flu season)

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Generations Beat Online News (GBO News) e-news covering aging for the Journalists Network on Generations, run by Paul Kleyman, an expert on aging.
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)
Guidelines.gov (AHRQ's National Guideline Clearinghouse--a public resource for summaries of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
GuideStar (nonprofit reports, Forms 990 for nonprofits, including donors, grantmakers, etc.)

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Health (Washington Post) Good coverage of health care, medical mysteries, science, and well+being
Health Beat (Congressional Quarterly), which covers health care stories on Capitol Hill.
Health reform
---Health reform (Health Affairs)
---Health insurance reform (HHS.gov)
---Health reform (American Public Health Association)
---Health Reform (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Health news blogs (blogroll, Covering Health, Association of Health Care Journalists) A roster of recommended blogs
HealthNewsReview ("improving your critical thinking about health care")
Health News Review finally ceased publication. A great loss. 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 plans to cease publishing its sometimes biting critiques in December 2018--for lack of funding. Gary Schwitzer talked to at least 25 possible funders for @HealthNewsRevu. The response? "Crickets." A final HealthNewsReview.org report card: Readers benefited from 3,200+ systematic reviews of health care news stories & PR releases (12-20-18) Learn from HNR reviews of news stories and press releases.
The Hill's healthcare coverage (that's Capitol Hill)

The Incidental Economist (a health services research blog)
JAMA (For the Media is where journalists apply for access to the JAMA Network)
JSTOR Daily "where news meets its scholarly match" -- offers analysis of news, tapping into scholarship on JSTOR, a digital library of academic journals.

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***KFF Health News Morning Briefing. KFF Health News's excellent daily summaries of health care stories in the US, coverage from major news organizations--anyone can subscribe to these e-bulletins, which digest and link to news from all major sources. See more infor also on the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) site

's email brings links to all the top medical stories

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Mayo Clinic (good site for basic information on a topic, including Diseases and Conditions, Symptoms, Tests and Procedures, Drugs and Supplements.
Medical links for patients, families, and caregivers (Pat's comfortdying.com site)
MedlinePlus (a free and easy-to-use service of the National Library of Medicine, good for getting a basic overview on a topic). See several main sections:
---Health Topics, A to Z
---Health Topics (Body location/systems, Disorders and conditions, Diagnosis and therapy, Demographic groups, Health and wellness, with subcategories under those, such as
---Blood Heart and Circulation
---Drugs, Herbs, and Supplements )
---OIder Adult Health
MedPage Today. You can subscribe to Medpage Today's Morning Break
Medscape (drug and disease reference resource, with some medical news and continuing education, CME)
MGH FLARE (Fast Literature Updates from Massachusetts General Hospital), a collaboration of doctors from the pulmonary and critical care divisions, quick reviews of topics that have popped up in the news or social media, from ‘the rapidly evolving literature on SARS-CoV-2 with a focus on critical care issues.’” H/T Jennifer Larson (@JenniferLarson).
Morning Consult Health
Muck Rack Daily (“a snapshot of what journalists around the world are reading, thinking and commenting on right now")

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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.

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The Oatmeal (cartoonist Matthew Boyd Inman's website, to lighten one's mood)

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.

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Pediatrics (American Academy of...)
Prescribers Digital Reference (PDR, by ConnectiveRxwith free search tool, replaces Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR). See Goodbye Physicians’ Desk Reference, hello Prescribers’ Digital Reference! (Wiley).
Podcasts about health, health care, medicine and medical science (Comfortdying.com)
Politico Pulse Get the latest in health care policy (and whether and how far bills are advancing on Capitol Hill) every morning at 10. For earlier, more in-depth coverage, pay for a subscription to Politico Pro.
ProMED-mail. Read their digests about what's happening with infectious diseases around the world.
ProPublica (Journalism in the Public Interest, a nonprofit investigative newsroom). Keep up with their latest investigations. Watch for Charles Ornstein, especially. See 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) Get alerts about embargoed studies from several journals and organizations (including JAMA, Pediatrics, and the American Heart Association).
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) and 9 PubMed Ninja Skills (Hilda Bastian, PLOS Blogs Network, 11-30-15) Precision searching;faceted searching; building searches using AND, OR, NOT, and parentheses; following the Similar Articles trail; finding a specific citation, journal, or author; getting email alerts; keeping track of, and sharing, articles and collections; customizing your PubMed.
PubPeer, the "online journal club," which allows users to critique published research--a form of post-publication peer review. PubPeer allows anonymous posting. See 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." See also PubPeer’s secret is out: Founder of controversial website reveals himself (Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, Science, 8-31-15) and 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."

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.

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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.
Rough&Tumble (a snapshot of California Public Policy & Politics)

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Shots (National Public Radio) For disease info, click on the Treatments and Tests tab. Other tabs: Your Health, Health Inc., Policyish, and Public Health.
Science Friday (Ira Flatow's wonderful 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 Morning Roundsnewsletter.
Stat Plus. For $$, sign up for access to in-depth pharma, biotech, business, and policy coverage, keeping you on top of what’s happening in the industry — as it happens)

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Tradeoffs A podcast that "tells intellectually engaging, emotionally resonant stories about the complicated, costly and often counterintuitive world of health care."
Twitter Curate your own "follow list" and keep up on breaking stories by your favorite journalists (useful especially for coronavirus stories).Twitter threads and summaries can give you a good overview on a topic, generate good story ideas, and are helpful in finding sources. Things are on a downhill slide, under new ownership. Follow specific subjects and writers by hashtags (such as #diabetes). You can set up more than one Twitter account (e.g., one for each book, column, or specialty, etc.)
UpToDate A service that synthesizes the best available research for clinicians--"the only clinical decision support resource associated with improved outcomes". One benefit of AHCJ membership is free access to UpToDate.com, with its highly respected overviews of disease and treatment options, with loads of citations. Each article has an expert author and editor with whom you can get in touch for further quotes. Healthcare reporters also often reach out to media relations people at hospitals, universities, medical research institutes, public health organizations, and the like.
The Upshot (analytical journalism with data graphics and interactive graphics, from the New York Times)
VoxCare (Vox on healthcare).
Well (New York Times) Essential news and guidance to live your healthiest life. Column and newsletter.
'What the Health?' (KFF News podcast) Top health policy reporters from major media outlets discuss the latest news and what is going on in Washington.
World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory International data on a wide variety of health indicators.
Your Morning Read (National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, an advocacy group) Good if you write about the topics.

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

"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)

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. Follow them on Twitter, sign up to get their press releases, and make a bookmarks folder of the links to the journalist login page for all (storing passwords in a password keeper).  Set up Google and PubMed alerts for specific scientists and keywords.


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“The problem with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and putting things in it.”

         ~ Terry Pratchett

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