TELEVISION NEWS: Hospital, Station Deals Corrupt Reports
In his column in this week's Business Week, Paul Raeburn, senior editor for science and technology, takes issue with promotional arrangements in which hospitals and health plans pay television stations to air health reports and other news segments featuring their physicians or facilities. The practice violates the "cardinal principle of journalism" -- that advertising or financial considerations should never be allowed to influence news, Raeburn argues. The reports are aired as part of news programs, and the financial relationship between hospital and television station is not disclosed. As a result, hospitals improperly benefit from the credibility of what appears to be objective news reporting, Raeburn writes, arguing that the practice undermines the integrity and credibility of the news. Some hospitals and TV stations defend the arrangements, saying the reports cover the "nitty-gritty issues" and provide viewers with "valuable information," but a group within the Association of American Medical Colleges is concerned enough about the sponsorships to have scheduled a discussion of them at its meeting next month (2/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.