Two headlines for the same medical report:

The Associated Press headline: New medical guidelines urge wider use of cholesterol drugs

The New York Times headline: Experts Reshape Treatment Guide for Cholesterol; Change in Statins’ Use; 2 groups see no need to drop to a specific level of LDL.

Marilynn Marchionne, the AP writer, starts out by saying that the edict calls for “twice as many Americans — one-third of all adults — to consider taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.” In other words, more use of drugs. In the fourth paragraph, she quotes a doctor saying the emphasis is to treat more appropriately.

Gina Kolata, the Princeton-based New York Times science writer, opens with a blander statement about the new guidelines. In her fourth paragraph, she quotes a doctor saying, “now one in four Americans over 40 will be saying, ‘Should I be taking this anymore?’ ”

The AP seems to emphasize MORE use of the drug, Kolata in the New York Times, by quoting the doctor on the front page “above the fold” seems to emphasize LESS use of the drug.

Why does this matter? Will the NYT reader welcome news of fewer drugs? Is it that the Associated Press reader (and the reader of Yahoo and other websites) will want to take more drugs?

It all goes back to what my father told me, all the time. “Nothing is ever completely true or ever completely false.”

And I’m just glad I’m not a health reporter.

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