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HealthDay Editorial Policy

Editorial Policy and Guidelines

The HealthDay news service, a division of ScoutNews, LLC, provides daily health news for both consumers and medical professionals. The news service is headquartered in Norwalk, CT.

The HealthDay editorial staff hails from for some of the largest media companies, with expertise in health and medical journalism. Our editors and writers have won most of the major journalism awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Headliners Award, and top prizes from Associated Press Managing Editors.

HealthDay's daily consumer health news stories are fair and accurate, reflecting the highest standards in American journalism. In fact, many of the country's major news and media companies subscribe to HealthDay, including Gannett, and Cox Newspapers. Additionally, HealthDay consumer stories are syndicated through the New York Times syndicate in print to more than 40 newspapers and broadcast outlets every day.

The professional news service, Physician's Briefing, provides up-to-the-minute daily news about the latest research in medical journals, presentations at medical conferences, and government initiatives that affect the way physicians and other health professionals practice medicine.

The Physician's Briefing Internet site, physiciansbriefing.com, includes a minimum of 15 daily articles written for the health professional across 32 medical specialties. The Physician's Briefing site also has monthly compilations of all articles it covered from medical journals, as well as presentations at recent professional conferences and scientific sessions.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Policy

HealthDay does not accept advertising or derive revenue from any source other than clients who subscribe to the news service.

  1. All HealthDay editorial staff members and freelancers are required to disclose any financial investments in or involvement with any health-related company that may be the subject of a HealthDay story that the individual is writing or editing. If there is even the possibility of a conflict of interest, the story is reassigned to another writer or editor.
  2. Clients are required to carry a HealthDay dateline with each story.
  3. All HealthDay stories are bylined, and brief biographies of the news service's regular correspondents can be found here.
  4. The sources of all content in each story—be they interviewees or research studies—are clearly identified in a source box at the end of each HealthDay article or in the link to the abstract at the end of each Physician's Briefing article.
  5. HealthDay and Physician's Briefing clients cannot substantially change the content of articles, or edit articles to alter their meaning. The HealthDay copyright is a requirement for the publishing of all stories contained in the daily consumer and/or professional newsfeeds.
  6. Additionally, clients cannot insert advertising, links or promotional material into HealthDay or Physician's Briefing stories.

By following these policies, all HealthDay and Physician's Briefing articles are independently written, reflecting a sound editorial policy free from outside influences or bias.

Corrections and Updating Policy

  1. All inquiries regarding the veracity of specific elements of HealthDay and Physician's Briefing stories are answered by an editor, and an investigation into the complaint or question is launched.
  2. The outcome of the findings is sent to the person or organization that made the inquiry.
  3. If a correction or clarification is required, an updated version of the story is sent in the next scheduled feed for HealthDay or Physician's Briefing, along with an email to all clients, notifying them of the change.
  4. If the editors believe no change is necessary, a response is sent to the person who made the inquiry with an explanation as to why the editors stand by the story as written.
  5. No HealthDay or article remains in any client's active files for more than 12 months or in the Physician's Briefing archive for more than 24 months. Additionally, the news service's editors perform monthly updating sessions to insure that information is still correct.

HealthDay's Sources

Because the core of HealthDay's coverage involves medical and health developments that have happened within the past few hours, it's important to be tied into those sources that regularly provide the information. Those sources include:

Peer-reviewed medical journals -- HealthDay and Physician's Briefing editors receive advance copies of major medical publications such as the New England Journal of Medicine and Journal of the American Medical Association each week. Our editors also regularly review articles in Stroke, Pediatrics, Cancer, The British Medical Journal, Lancet, Science, and the Annals of Internal Medicine, just to name a few. After reviewing these articles, HealthDay and Physician's Briefing editors determine what material is most important for the public to know, and then make story assignments.

Government organizations -- The Food and Drug Administration, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health are just a few of the governmental departments HealthDay and Physician's Briefing staff members check regularly.

Medical and health associations -- Organizations like the A.M.A. and A.P.A. (American Psychiatric Association) contact us regularly with information and announcements about new research, annual meetings, conventions, and important legislation.

Press releases -- Our journalists have been reporting for HealthDay and Physician's Briefing for more than five years, so health-related companies, hospitals, and medical research organizations contact us with press information every day. The editors review these press releases and those that are truly newsworthy are assigned accordingly.

Personal and professional contacts -- HealthDay and Physician's Briefing correspondents have years of experience, so their contacts (and their ability to make new contacts) are extensive. Very often, stories will develop because of a reporter's persistence in calling insiders and asking about important health issues.

The Assigning Process

Staff meetings are held daily at 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. eastern time, in which the editors itemize pending assignments and make changes, based on the day's important news. After the morning meeting, the story schedule is updated for both reporters and editors to see. There is an electronic story budget that's posted on the HealthDay news administrative Internet site. A similar list of assignments is posted for Physician's Briefing editors and writers.

Assignments are selected from a list of reporters. HealthDay has about 40 freelance writers—all veterans in consumer health and medical reporting. Physician's Briefing has a list of about 15 freelance writers, all specialists in professional health information.

HealthDay story assignments are made all day long, but a great number of them occur between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Eastern time every day. Each reporter is told when stories are due to the editing desk. Physician's Briefing stories are usually assigned one or two days in advance, although any breaking news also can be covered.

Once a story has been written, an assignment editor does the initial editing. This person might be the original assigning editor, but very often it will be a different editor. Usually, there will be additional questions for the reporter to answer. The next step is to assign the story to be re-edited, this time by a copy editor. This is the process that puts the finishing touches on the story—grammar, punctuation, good headlines, and most important, a final check to ensure that nothing has been left out and that all the facts in the story are validated. The editors then check to ensure that if a story has an embargo time, that it isn't released until the embargo has lifted. The story is then electronically activated for transmission to clients.

This process allows for three editors to work on the same story at different times during the editing cycle, a procedure used by most news operations.

There are seven HealthDay consumer news newsfeeds daily: 9 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m., and 11:45 p.m. All times are Eastern time.

There are two daily Physician's Briefing newsfeeds: Noon and 7 p.m.

In addition to the 10-12 hard news stories produced every day, the HealthDay consumer news service uses the same editing and reporting procedures to offer FDA actions and approvals, two daily health tips, and a news roundup of the most important health stories of the day. The roundup consists of a minimum of five items, and is updated at least twice a day.

Improving HealthDay and Physician's Briefing Content

An editorial review board meets weekly—sometimes it's more frequently—to examine HealthDay's article output and determine whether the most important stories are being reported in a timely and journalistically correct way. The review board—which consists of the editor-in-chief, managing editors, special projects editor, and senior editor—discusses topics that include (but are not limited to):

  • Proper story selection
  • Timeliness in releasing the stories
  • Reporters' productivity and competence
  • Improving the assigning and editing process
  • Possible medical and health innovations to be explored
  • Upcoming medical conferences and annual meetings and special events
  • Enterprise reporting projects

  • HealthDay Editorial Contacts

    Executive Editor
    Jeff Walsh
    Contact Editors
    203-855-1400, Ext. 104

    Managing Editor, Professional News
    Dr. Cynthia Haines (Dr. Cindy Haines)
    Contact Physician's Briefing editors

    83 East Avenue, Suite 210
    Norwalk, CT 06851

    Last Updated: July 28, 2014

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