Before I started as NewsBusters managing editor, I finished up a study of the media's bias when it comes to reporting on prescription drugs. The study was released on March 14.
After the page break are some findings from the executive summary. Here's a link to the PDF version of the study.
Even when one new drug was hailed as a “major advance in combating
breast cancer” and a “major medical breakthrough,” its manufacturer was
given only a passing mention on one network. BMI looked at 132 stories
on prescription or over-the-counter drugs from the ABC, CBS, and NBC
evening newscasts between January 1 and Sept. 30, 2006.
Among the findings:
Ignored: While covering everything from medical “controversies” to
breakthroughs, nearly 80 percent of the stories excluded the viewpoint
of the pharmaceutical industry, failing to include either a company
statement or a company spokesman.
- Media Overemphasize Cost to
Consumer: The broadcast networks mentioned costs to consumers or drug
company revenues 11 times more often than they mentioned drug
- Networks Leave Companies Unnoticed: Only 22
percent of the stories even named the company that developed the drug
or drugs featured in the story.
- What Development Costs?: A mere
2 percent of stories dealt with the cost of developing drugs, and even
those costs were downplayed by industry skeptics.
Treatment for Left-Wing Causes: Nineteen stories focused on drugs that
were popular liberal causes such as the morning-after pill or HPV
vaccine Gardasil. The networks didn’t apply the same scrutiny to those
drugs and their makers as they did to others.