Does it matter who writes medical news stories?

Amanda J. Wilson, Jane Robertson, Patrick McElduff, Alison Jones, David Henry*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The media can influence health literacy and health seeking behaviours, but few studies have looked at the quality of news stories. We examined whether experienced specialist health reporters write better stories than other categories of journalists
We compared the quality of stories written by specialist and non-specialist journalists, and those sourced from major news organisations, in Australia from 2004–08.
We found that it does matter who writes news stories that cover the benefits and harms of health care interventions. Stories written by specialist health journalists working for a single media outlet scored more highly than those written by less experienced writers.
Our findings are important because this source of health literacy is currently under pressure as falling revenues threaten the future of the traditional media.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1000323
JournalPLoS Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010
Externally publishedYes


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