Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post

Charles Peters on FDA standards and why headlines matter

Charlie Peters has always said that to find the nugget of news inside the average news story, look to the last paragraph.  In this case, he recommends you at least make it to the fifth:

“Avandia Gets Equivocal Vote from FDA Panel. Fewer Than Half Want Diabetes Drug Pulled over Safety Concerns.” If this subhead from the Washington Post leads you to assume that more than half the panel approved of Avandia, it was significantly misleading. Here’s what you would have found if you had stuck it out through the story’s fifth paragraph: of the thirty-two members of the FDA panel who voted, only three favored allowing Avandia to continue its present sales practices unaltered. What is more, “10 voted that it should remain available, with serious label revisions and possible restrictions on its sale,” seven “voted to add further warnings to the drug’s label,” and twelve voted to prohibit the drug completely. A lot of us read three or four stories carefully in our daily newspapers but scan the rest of the contents. This means that the writers of headlines have an obligation to take care, especially when a threat to health, like a potentially dangerous drug, is concerned.

(Reprinted from The Washington Monthly by permission)

One Response to “Charles Peters on FDA standards and why headlines matter”

  1. hampton:

    So why did the Post tell the story the way it did?

    comment at 18. September 2010

Leave a Comment