What’s too often missing is context. How does what you are reporting fit into the larger scheme of similar issues? As CJR has pointed out over the years, media reports about new drug studies often fail to provide this context. Fauber’s story offers a lot of it. For example, he talks about the troubles of Vioxx and the role of the medical journals in passing along questionable information about new drugs. He interviewed the executive editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, who said “we are living in the real world here. They (drug companies) own it. It’s their data.” Maybe so, but the Journal Sentinel thought that heart patients in Wisconsin deserved to know more.
Fauber’s story, published as a joint project with MedPage Today, which analyzes breaking news from a clinical perspective, reminds us of certain conflicts—hidden and not so hidden—in medicine, and the harm they can bring to unsuspecting patients. We hope Fauber continues to expose these for his readers and the rest of us, while setting a fine example for other reporters to follow.