March 23-29, 2001
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Vice president for finance named
New parking rates take effect June 1
Slavic professor's family history comes full circle

City OKs Jefferson Center's free speech wall

U.Va.'s fund-raising campaign tallies $1.43 billion
Washington Post reporter discusses media and medicine
General Faculty Council holding elections online
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English faculty to share diverse scholarship

Washington Post reporter discusses media and medicine

By Abena Foreman-Trice

Consumers want more medical information and the mass media is more than happy to oblige. The problem is, medical information changes often and can be confusing to sort through. In light of this, the medical reporter can be a doctor's best friend. How can doctors foster such a friendship?

Sally Squires, health reporter for the Washington Post shared her advice during the School of Medicine's March 7 Medical Center Hour talk on "Medicine and the Media."

Speaking to an auditorium filled with doctors, medical students and the general public, Squires' basic points were:

Newness of an issue, promisnence of people associated with the issue, conflicts and bizarre circumstances all constitute news stories.

When reporters call, the recipients should find out with whom they are speaking and consider everything they say to be "on the record."

While being interviewed, doctors should try to reduce the amount of jargon they use.

An interview with a reporter never guarantees inclusion in a story.

Build relationships with members of the press and a hospital's media relations office.

"Why is it that medical breakthroughs are bolstered in the news that may not have had strong research?" asked a medical student in the audience. "It gives people false hope."

Squires replied that she and at least some other reporters refrain from using the term "breakthrough" when it comes to new research. Many reporters in the media understand that medicine and research are not black and white, but they are shades of gray, she said.

After her lecture, when Squires asked for feedback from the audience, many, by a show of hands, said they would still be hesitant to speak to the media.


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