NPR reviewing controversial installment of The Infinite Mind

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NPR is reviewing whether the recent Infinite Mind program “Prozac Nation: Revisited” meets its editorial standards and practices, according to Ombudsman Alicia Shepard. The program, which NPR distributed on its Sirius satellite radio channel, criticized the media for overplaying the link between antidepressant drugs and violent behavior, and didn’t reveal that experts who appeared on the program had financial ties to drug companies that manufacture antidepressants. Also: the series itself received a substantial grant from Ely Lilly, maker of Prozac, two years ago, according to Shepard. “Being upfront about real or potential financial conflicts of interest is key to establishing credibility,” Shepard wrote. “Financial associations don’t mean that experts should necessarily be disqualified as commentators, but the public must be told about them.” NPR initiated the review after Slate described the program as an egregious example of undisclosed conflicts of interest in medical reporting. Infinite Mind E.P. Bill Lichtenstein responds to Slate here. Statistical Assessment Service, an arm of George Mason University run by Robert Lichter, took both the Slate writers and The Infinite Mind to task May 14: “To sum up: one can be too credulous of industry or dismissive of its importance; but one can also be too cynical and lurch towards paranoia when investigating its influence.”