The last few days have been a flurry of media stories regarding the release of new immunisation uptake rates in Australia. Rosalie Hilleman has a collection here.
False balance on health stories has long been a problem in media all around the world. Giving anti-vaccinationists a podium with real experts, in the interests of fairness and balance, does nothing but a disservice to the health of our children. Whose interests are benefited by interviewing people like Meryl Dorey and Judy Wilyman, who have actively vilified grieving families? How does public health benefit by allowing an anti-vaccinationist to lie to a national audience, only having to then require a real health expert to refute the lie which was always a lie? Is it really just filler? Is public health worthy of so little as to make it about advertising revenue? Do we preface every Holocaust story with David Irving, out of respect to fairness and balance?
I want to focus only on one egregious example from Melbourne’s Channel 9 newsroom. We’ve seen this sort of thing before from Channel 9; when interviewing an AVN committee member, and attempting to pass her off as just a parent.
You’ll need to search for the segment entitled, “Low vaccination rates putting children at risk”, in which you will find what would have been an okay vaccination story. Except the reporter did this:
If vaccinations work, then, why are you so worried about whether I vaccinate my child or not?
So, who is “Bayside mum” Andi Lew, who uses this weak, selfish argument to bleat to the world about how little she cares about babies too young to be immunised?
She is the co-author of an anti-vaccine book, 7 Things Your Doctor Forgot to Tell You, with her chiropractor husband Warren Sipser (a board member of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia, Victoria outlet). The book is sold online and throughout the chiropractic and wellness industry. It would have been nice for viewers to have this information. You have met Sipser, Lew and their book before in this post: Anti-vaccine chiropractors 50 – the CAA Boards Extravaganza.
So, is Lew just a mum? Hardly. She profits from anti-vaccinationism. Viewers should have been told.
And experts need to stop appearing in the same segments as these public health menaces. Stop dragging yourselves down to the level of the anti-vaccine liars and the news story fillers.
Viewers deserve better. You would think news outlets, who are meant to be respectable, would have learnt from the WIN News/ACMA/Media Watch saga.