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Author Topic: Balance, a tool for manipulation, and for doggone, stupid journalists  (Read 2207 times)


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A good example of how false and how dangerous the acclaimed "balance" in journalism is, is shown in this video with some of the text content available as plain text. To keep in online, the full quotation is included here.

The really remarkable thing to see (and to hear) is the clear language of the journalist who reports about that wretched piece.

For the many embedded links, please see the original (as long as it is online).

Mediawatch: everyone loves it until they're on it
Monday 9:20pm; repeated Wednesday morning 12:25am watch on iView

Episode 35, 1 October 2012
False balance leads to confusion

Well, let’s move on. Another complaint to the ACMA came to our attention last week. A month ago, WIN TV in Wollongong aired a news story about a measles outbreak in South-West Sydney. It started off well enough:

"Michaela Gray: 40 cases in two and a half months, the Macarthur region is facing an outbreak of measles of worrying proportions. ...

Dr Cathryn Archinal: as doctors we recommend that everyone is immunised.

— WIN News Illawarra, 16th August, 2012"

But the doctor’s advice was then contradicted by this...

"Michaela Gray: There remains heated discussion about possible links between the jab and the development of autism.

Meryl Dorey: All vaccinations in the medical literature have been linked with the possibility of causing autism, not just the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine.

Michaela Gray: Choice groups are calling for greater research into the measles vaccine

— WIN News Illawarra, 16th August, 2012"

‘Choice groups’. They actually only quoted one group, which claims that it’s in favour of the public having a choice. But Meryl Dorey’s deceptively -named Australian Vaccination Network is in fact an obsessively anti-vaccination pressure group that’s immunised itself against the effect of scientific evidence.

Dorey’s claim about the medical literature linking vaccination and autism is pure, unadulterated baloney.

On our website is a long statement by the NSW Director of Health Protection, Dr Jeremy McAnulty. He says that...

"Any link between measles vaccine and autism has been conclusively discredited by numerous in-depth studies and reviews by credible experts, including the World Health Organisation, the American Academy of Paediatrics and the UK Research Council.

— Dr Jeremy McAnulty, Director of Health Protection, NSW Health, 28th September, 2012"

The NSW Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, told state parliament last week that ...

"The Australian Vaccination Network has not provided accurate information to parents about the risks and benefits of immunisation.)

— NSW Parliament, Jillian Skinner, NSW Minister for Health, 26th September, 2012"

So why on earth, we asked WIN TV, did it include the AVN’s misleading claims in a news story about a measles outbreak?
WIN TV couldn’t find time to answer that question. But it wrote this to a viewer who complained :

"The story presented was accurate, fair and balanced and presented the views of the medical practitioners and of the choice groups.

— Shirley Brown, Group Business Director, 4th September, 2012"

Medical practitioners – choice groups. One opinion as valid as the other. It’s a classic example of what many – especially despairing scientists – call ‘false balance’ in the media. As the British Medical Journal put it last year in an editorial about the “debate” in the UK :

"the media’s insistence on giving equal weight to both the views of the anti-vaccine camp and to the overwhelming body of scientific evidence ...made people think that scientists themselves were divided over the safety of the vaccine, when they were not.

— British Medical Journal, When balance is bias, Christmas Edition, 2011"

To put it bluntly, there’s evidence, and there’s bulldust. It’s a journalist’s job to distinguish between them, not to sit on the fence and bleat ‘balance’. Especially when people’s health is at risk.

That’s my view. We’ll let you know what the ACMA rules some time next year.

For more on this, and our other stories, visit our website. Until next week, goodnight.

Comments (9)

Add your comment

    Sandra :

    01 Oct 2012 10:20:39pm

    I agree with your comment that there is evidence and there is bulldust. I just do not agree with your view of which side of the argument is the bulldust.
    It is imperative that both sides of an argument are presented but, where this argument is concerned, there is never balance in reporting on shows such as Media Watch. Always pushing the mainstream government line and never deviating from same - even when people's health is at risk. On ya.
    Research everyone. NEVER believe what the government advises re health issues. You are in control of your own health and that of your children.

    Reply Agree (0) Alert moderator
    reasonablehank :

    01 Oct 2012 10:08:10pm

    For further examination of the story outlined above, see my post, here:

    Reply Agree (1) Alert moderator
    impressed :

    01 Oct 2012 10:07:00pm

    Excellent segment.

    Reply Agree (0) Alert moderator
    lisaW :

    01 Oct 2012 10:05:01pm

    Quality journalism consists of reporters telling readers, viewers and listeners the truth, regardless of what they might want to hear.
    That is a quote from John Holmes and I for one would like to see him take his own advice. It's very easy to hear advice from vested interests and look no further.

    Reply Agree (0) Alert moderator
    Greg :

    01 Oct 2012 10:00:34pm

    Jonathon, you will find Meryl Dorey is considerably more knowlegeable than you think. Why didn't you ask her to substantiate her statement rather than just pre-judge and blather on about 'bulldust'? Do you investigate? Did you try? Your opinionated piece was.... just that.

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    Sian Morton :

    01 Oct 2012 9:57:06pm


    Reply Agree (0) Alert moderator
    Craig :

    01 Oct 2012 9:54:58pm

    Correct. When one party is obviously crazy presenting their argument is not balance, it's just dumb.

    Reply Agree (0) Alert moderator
    Mike :

    01 Oct 2012 9:52:22pm

    This is FANTASTIC. Thank you!

    Reply Agree (0) Alert moderator
    Parijat Wismer :

    01 Oct 2012 9:51:04pm

    Your comments on TV were in fact one sided. The scientific community is divided. PhD researcher Dr Viera Scheibner calls vaccination an assault on the immune system.
    Science has not proven vaccines to be safe, we actually have no idea about longterm effects of the number of multiple shots children now get. Could the increase in ADD and Autism be linked not to one vaccine only, but the amount of toxins injected into immature immune systems? I think that the answer given by Shirley Brown was appropriate. You call AVNs 'claims as misleading' did you really research that before making that statement? I don't think so...

    Reply Agree (0) Alert moderator
Also in this episode

Sorry, sort of
False balance leads to confusion

Viera Scheibner is no scientist. Viera Scheibner is a rotten, braindead liar.

The "work" of the criminals can be seen in the "comments" part. Their lies must be strongly criticized as what they are: damned lies.


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