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Skillful News Reporting Drives Progress in Research

August 31, 2015, by Nelvis Castro

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Call for Applications for Cancer Research in the Media Workshops in India: Deadline Extended to September 4, 2015.

Journalists have a unique opportunity to help consumers be healthier skeptics. Equipped with science-writing skills and an enhanced understanding of cancer, journalists can provide the public accurate and balanced coverage of cancer research developments. Skillfully crafted stories enable patients to make informed decisions about their health and facilitate knowledge sharing among scientists.

Health news stories should adequately discuss the costs, the benefits and risks of a treatment or test, and the quality of the evidence in order to benefit the cancer community. Yet, many news stories often fail to quantify the costs, tend to emphasize the benefits and minimize the risks, and some even reference questionable sources, according to HealthNewsReview.org. A study by this organization found that of 1,500 stories in a five-year period, more than half failed to quantify the benefits or the potential harms, and more than half failed to evaluate the quality of the evidence.

To address this issue, the Center for Global Health and the Office of Communications and Public Liaison at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designed a training program about scientific journalism for members of the media. The goal of the Cancer Research in the Media (CRiM) program is to increase journalists’ understanding of complex scientific findings in cancer research, prevention, and treatment, and to enhance their ability to report on scientific information.

NCI is now encouraging members of the media in India to apply for this year’s CRiM workshops: October 12-13, 2015 in New Delhi and October 15-16, 2015 in Mumbai. To offer this training program in India, NCI has partnered with in-country institutions including the Institute of Cytology and Preventive Oncology, the Public Health Foundation of India, and the Tata Memorial Centre.

For four years, NCI has built capacity among journalists throughout the world, training more than 190 professionals from 10 countries. Through this and other initiatives, the Center for Global Health will continue to create sustainable international partnerships, support programs that address global gaps in research and scientific training, and disseminate information and best practices that drive improvements in cancer research and cancer control.

For more information about the training program, visit the CRiM website or contact NCICRiMedia@mail.nih.gov. Follow CRiM on Twitter (@NCI_CRiM) for cancer news and scientific journalism tips and resources.

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