‘HEALTH NEWS NOW’: NEJM To Go On The Tube
The Massachusetts Medical Society, publisher of the New England Journal of Medicine, has taped a 30-minute pilot for a new television show on public health. The society decided to go ahead with the show, called "Health News Now," after perceiving a need among the general public for more and better health information. The Wall Street Journal/New England Edition reports that most "Americans get the bulk of their health information from regular TV news programs, which afford them little opportunity to explore a subject in depth and no chance at all to go back and review what they heard." A 1997 Roper Starch survey for the National Health Council found that while more than half of all respondents said they "changed their behavior or otherwise acted on what they learned from a health news story," they still felt underinformed. Furthermore, most respondents found mainstream media reports contradictory and confusing. The show's pilot episode features doctors "sort[ing] out the kinds of conflicting medical reports that baffle patients, such as who should take hormone supplements at menopause and when women should begin having annual mammograms."
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"You need a voice of legitimacy," said Terry Schrader, one of the show's reporters. "If medical news is largely public health education, then who better to do it than physicians and the Massachusetts Medical Society?" she asked. The show's anchor will be Margie Reedy, an anchor for New England Cable News in Newton, MA. Christopher Gilbert, who has experience on shows like Bob Vila's "Home Again" and Martha Stewart specials, will be the show's producer. The next step is to sell the pilot to sponsors and distributors, who would place the show in syndication. Gilbert said only one pilot in five is ever sold, and the current competition will make it difficult for "Health News Now." But he noted the new show "has a key asset: The link to the New England Journal, the world's most often-cited journal of clinical information" (Gentry, 7/1).