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12 Comments

  1. 1
    Jennifer Doggett

    Jennifer Doggett

    Congrats on getting the funds together and on the great job you are doing with Croakey! And thanks to all the funders for helping keep this unique and stimulating forum alive, for at least another 12 months.

    Reply
  2. 2
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    Frank Campbell

    I can think of several things on Crikey that might be cut or reduced before Croakey. Anyway, well done.

    Reply
  3. 3
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    William

    “I also took a lead from the US community-funded journalism project, Spot Us, which seeks to address conflicts of interest by ensuring that no single sponsor can fund more than 20 per cent of a story. In a similar vein, I thought it better to have several organisations putting in a relatively small amount than to have only one or two involved, which might be more likely to engender a sense of ownership.”

    This is laughable really. Having taken such great issue with with numerous clinicians over conflicts of interest (with very little attempt to give any sort of unbiased coverage) do you really expect people to believe this sort of excuse.

    You are now beholden to organisations to which you may reasonably be expected to take a critical view.

    I’m sorry but you’ve blown it.

    Reply
  4. 4
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    Bogdanovist

    So William, you’re alternative is that Croakey should not take the money, and hence cease to exist? Kind of a weird ‘destroy the village to save it’ kind of logic don’t you think?

    Reply
  5. 5
    Croakey

    Croakey

    It’s good to see the COI issues debated. I hope that William and others will speak up if they think I, or Croakey generally, is giving unfair advantage to any of the Croakey Consortium funders.

    Reply
  6. 6
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    David Roberts

    Great news, very much appreciate the blog & was bewildered by its axing. Hopefully Crikey will be in a position to reinstate your funding next year.

    Reply
  7. 7
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    Doctor Whom

    Congratulations Melissa good work.

    COI – Well that’s assuming Croakey influences anyone anyway………

    I’d sell out for less than $12 big ones.

    Reply
  8. 8
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    William

    The point about conflict of interest is that it is usually not obvious. How will anyone know if you chose not to blog any information critical of one of your sponsors that might come to your notice?

    I’m not suggesting that Croakey should cease to exist, merely that it must now be seen as (at least potentially) the mouth piece of it’s sponsors. This is an unavoidable consequence of accepting the funding from a source that you might reasonably be expected to take an objective, independent view of.

    So how about identifying your sponsors in the ‘About Crikey’ section at the head of your page??

    Reply
  9. 9
    Croakey

    Croakey

    William, updating the “about crikey” is on my long list of to-do jobs, along with updating the Croakey conflict of interest declaration which was published in draft form a while back, with the aim of eliciting comments before it is finalised. http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/2009/10/05/croakey-and-conflicts-of-interest-what-do-you-think/
    Doing them both at the same time seems to make more sense. You will see, if you have a look, that my COIs are not limited to the funders of the Croakey Consortium. It is impossible to be a freelancer working for a variety of different publications and organisations without having a COI list as long as your arm. Then there are all the more subtle allegiances and relationships that develop over more than 20 years of covering a field – one of the hazards of the specialist reporter.

    Reply
  10. 10
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    William

    ‘It is impossible to be a freelancer working for a variety of different publications and organisations without having a COI list as long as your arm.’

    Just as it is difficult to be an effective clinician/researcher in a systemically underfunded health/academic system without creating some similar conflicts of interest.

    The difference is that for the clinician/researcher this is increasingly being portrayed as some sort of crime or malpractice, whilst you imply that for a journalist this is the accepted norm.

    Perhaps, Melissa, you have just discovering the reality that for all of us who work ‘in health’, be it as clinician, researcher, administrator or even journalist, there just isn’t enough independent funding to go round/get the job done! Tough isn’t it?

    Best Wishes, and Merry Christmas.

    Reply
  11. 11
    Croakey

    Croakey

    William, I think there is some difference between a journalist writing articles or reports whose funders are self-evident and health professionals who:
    • lend their professional clout to industry marketing campaigns
    • allow their names to be put on ghostwritten articles, and do not always declare this
    • take funding for research which is more about marketing than furthering public health
    • accept gifts, prizes, travel, lavish meals etc
    • participate in or contribute to medical education which is marketing driven
    • allow their own or their institutions’ COIs to influence what they say in public or how they write up their findings.
    ETC!
    Of course, not all health professionals are involved in such practices. But there has been enough of this going on to raise widespread concerns. And, as I’m sure you know, it’s not only journalists who’ve been raising such concerns – plenty of journals, researchers and other groups have also been sounding the alarm about the impact of COIs on the integrity of health care and professional practice.
    I’m not arguing that COIs are not an issue for journalists. In fact I’ve been involved in putting together a research proposal to study exactly this issue, which recently received NHMRC funding. So it will be interesting to learn more about the extent of journalists’ COIs.

    Reply

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