Last week I read this Vox post by Susannah Locke: Should You Trust the Latest Health News? Here's How to Tell, which wisely cited my favorite health news watchdog, Gary Schwitzer and his HealthNewsReview.org. Locke provided a handy summary of important questions we should all ask about the news stories we read. She also wondered how the latest research results might be helpful when people are facing decisions about their health and health care.
Chuck Todd, the Chief White House Correspondent for NBC News, asked me a similar question last fall at the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) Rays of Hope Gala: Media and the Cancer Experience*. Todd asked, "Jessie, you obviously talk a lot about cancer care and the quality of care that's happening. I feel like we in the media don't talk about that as much. We're talking about diagnosis or we talk about treatments. We don't necessarily talk about care enough, which may explain why people write to you about this stuff. So, how could [the media] do better on that front?"
My answer was that, unfortunately, the nitty gritty of getting good care is not really news, unless we're talking about how poor it is. However, there are opportunities for journalists and writers to report "news you can use" that would be very helpful to many people. The actions we have to take to find good care and make the most of it are many and they are mostly foreign to most of us. Just a few of the things we have to do are:
- Find good health care
- Communicate with our doctors
- Participate in our treatment
- Organize and pay for our care
- Make good treatment decisions
- Find reliable health information
And there is a big gap in reporting on most of these necessary tasks.
Here is my full response about how the media can help us with the daunting responsibilities we face.
I also encourage you to watch additional Q&A videos from all the panelists at the NCCS Rays of Hope event:
- Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Senior Medical Contributor, ABC News
- Dr. Douglas W. Blayney, Medical Director of the Stanford Cancer Center
- Darlene Hunt, Emmy Award-winning creator of the Showtime series The Big C
- Dr. Elmer Huerta, the Cancer Preventorium, Provención Radio Program and Medical Contributor, CNN En Español
- Julie Rovner, Health Policy Correspondent, NPR
* September 26, 2013, Washington, DC. Jessie Gruman received the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship's Excellence in Media Award, presented by Julia Rowland, Director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship at the National Cancer Institute.