Health-Writing Tips  | American Journalism Review
From AJR,   December 2002

Health-Writing Tips   

Mervin Block, a broadcast writing coach who has written news for Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw and Charles Kuralt, has compiled a list of tips for writing health news on his Web site (

By Rachel Smolkin

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*Never use the word miracle. Leave that to ministers, mayonnaise-makers and sportswriters.

*Don't use breakthrough. I'm not saying, never ever use it under any circumstances whatsoever. But breakthroughs are infrequent, and the word breakthrough, like controversy, is so overused that it has lost much of its impact.

*Avoid cure. Announcements of cures are rare, and they must be handled with utmost care.

*One study by itself seldom proves anything. So don't treat the results of a study as the last word.

*Identify the source of the story.... Attribution precedes assertion. So before telling what was said, tell who said it.

*Don't be an alarmist. Don't exaggerate. Don't speculate. Cogitate.