Tuesday, August 12, 2008, 4:40 PM

Hospitals are put on notice by journalists

Hospitals take note: two journalism societies are shining the light on what they consider "unhealthy alliances" between hospitals and news outlets.

Arrangements in which a hospital pays media to report news content written by the hospital should be avoided, according the Association for Health Care Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists. To read their statement, click here.

The warning comes after a Maryland newspaper sold the content rights of its health section to a local hospital. The hospital drafted the content and the paper published it, without the counterveiling views readers expect in coverage. Due in part to community opposition, the arrangement was shelved after just one publication.

Newspapers aren't the only ones that risk a black eye with such arrangements. A hospital - or any other organization - may do more harm than good to its reputation if the local community finds the arrangement unsavory. In my view, deals like this should take a back seat to sustained advertising, media relations, and community outreach strategies. To learn how Womble Carlyle can help your organization's outreach efforts, click here.

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