The week before the drug company supplement in the NY Times Magazine, there was a glossy insert called "National Hospital Guide, a reference tool for health-conscious consumers". It portrayed itself as "designed to help you better manage your health care needs".
Of course, the major entries in the booklet were those hospitals that had shelled out the money to buy an ad in the same booklet. But then, a few others were included, too, including a few in Boston. When we inquired how the selection was made of those hospitals, the publisher told us that they had a selection process, but could not or would not tell us the criteria for selection. One group of hospitals included in that manner is a major purchaser of advertising space in the Boston Globe, which is owned by the New York Times. In the absence of public criteria for selection in the Times brochure, it is unreasonable to assume that there is some carryover influence from the Globe ad placement?
The point is this. Advertising is advertising. A selection process based on supposed clinical excellence is another. Shouldn't we expect the media to distinguish between the two when they are "guiding patients to better health"?