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August 02, 2021
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Healio responds to backlash over podcast comments

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Comments made in a podcast episode of Eye Care Insider by ophthalmology consultant John B. Pinto have been viewed by many of our listeners as sexist, and the comments received a strong backlash on social media. Editors at Healio did not initially flag the comments, mainly because Pinto has often referenced the younger generation of ophthalmologists as seeking out more of a work-life balance than the previous generation of ophthalmologists, many of whom could be identified as workaholics who lacked a healthy work-life balance. Healio editors apologize for not recognizing how the comments could be perceived as insensitive by female physicians. Through all of its editorial coverage Healio strongly supports women in medicine.

To hear the comments in question, begin listening at 1:42 here.

And for Pinto’s response, click here.

Instead of removing the questionable content, Healio editors agreed we will better serve our readers by continuing this conversation in hopes that all of us may better understand why the remarks would stir such passioned responses.

Since its inception, part of Healio’s editorial mission has been to support women in medicine across all medical specialties. We proudly stand by all our varied news and editorial content that affirms this mission.

Joan-Marie Stiglich, ELS, Healio’s Chief Content Officer’s response

Joan-Marie Stiglich

On Thursday, I was notified that a Healio ophthalmology podcast episode included a remark that some ophthalmologists deemed both sexist and unworthy of Healio.

As the Chief Content Officer, it is my call on how, when and if to respond to social media criticism. And so, on Thursday, I followed a similar evaluation pattern when our team is contacted by a reader who believes there is an error in our content – assemble other senior leadership, gather facts, discuss and formulate a response. As is often the case, our path was to ask the author (or in this case, podcast guest) to respond. I chose not to pull down the podcast episode because I believe these dialogues should not be hidden away.

To put this into context, all the discussion with my team happened in real-time with my 19-year-old daughter by my side. I had taken a vacation day to get her ready for her second year at Virginia Tech. I spent most of her life quoting Eleanor Roosevelt and Maya Angelou to her, and she is a crusader for equality. She is also wise beyond her years, so I listened to her advice as well as that of my publishing team. Healio posted the podcast guest’s response Thursday afternoon.

On Sunday, the outcry by ophthalmologists grew louder. It became clear to me then that my approach was not good enough and that I personally needed to speak to not only how we screwed up, but also about what Healio stands for.

But to be very honest, it is 12:05 am Monday, August 2, and as I write this it is very hard not to be simultaneously heartbroken and a tad defensive.

Why? Because I truly believe I am a servant to my readership and that my position as the Healio publisher gives me the ability to foster, not hurt, the change that has been needed in medicine.

Healio has done this through a myriad of ways.

Healio and OSN have been supporters of Ophthalmic World Leaders since day 1, when a group of bright women created Ophthalmic Women Leaders. Healio and OSN have been supporters and media partners of Women in Ophthalmology also since its inception.

Healio has a robust and active Women in Oncology resource center that seeks to advance the work of women in the field of oncology and provide insights for overcoming challenges. The Women in Oncology Peer Perspective Board issued a statement last month about sexual misconduct in medicine that was sparked by an investigative report published by The Cancer Letter into unethical sexual relationships that Axel Grothey, MD, had with women he mentored.

Healio has focused recent content on gender disparities in journal citations; allyship; social media influence on gender disparities; pay gaps; persistent sex disparities in academic promotions; physician burnout; work-life integration; and dozens of similar topics. Healio continues to bring to the forefront difficult topics for the good of its readership. Healio has a collection of gender inequality articles.

Healio is the official media partner of the Women in Medicine Summit and the Association of Women in Rheumatology National Conference.

On August 17, Healio will launch into 2 new specialties, one of which is Women’s Health & OB/GYN.

I have been a journalist and editor for 27 years and started my career in ophthalmology and orthopedics. I was the Editor in Chief of Ocular Surgery News for many years. I’ve spent my entire career marveling and cheering on female physicians and doing everything in my power to ensure equality in Healio and OSN.

Seven of the 10 Healio Editorial Directors, who report to me, are women. I was the first female to be promoted to the C-Suite at Healio.

I am a mother of a 19-year-old daughter who is studying Accounting and Finance at Virginia Tech and a 17-year-old son who is in his final year of high school.

Before the pandemic, I traveled to more than 15 medical meetings a year. I worked full-time and traveled throughout my children’s entire childhood.

I have spoken to more female physicians than I can count over my career, always with the mindset of – how can I help you?

So, if you feel Healio failed you, then I guess that means you feel I failed you. I hope the examples above convince you that that was not my intention, or anyone on my team’s intentions.

I invite our readers to respond, especially our sharpest critics. We can only get better. I hope you give Healio and me the chance to prove that. Please email me at jmstiglich@healio.com. We would like to publish a selection of responses. If you need a long-form platform to promote new ideas, Healio is here for you.

Thank you.