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Archive for the ‘Examples’ Category

All this should challenge the application of the antismoking model to obesity.

In The Making of the Obesity Epidemic: How Food Activism Led Public Health Astray  by Helen Lee, the author makes the argument that the nature of obesity is misunderstood, that the evidence of the ill-effects of obesity are poorly understood, and that public policy has been ineffective.  In addition, the author makes the claim that a significant part of policy ineffectiveness arises because the public health community mistook the lessons of the campaign against smoking and attempted to apply the same approaches in the smoking campaign to the campaign against obesity, expecting similar results when in fact the two issues were different and the approaches to one could not be extrapolated to the other.

All this should challenge the application of the antismoking model to obesity. Where smoking can be banned, overeating cannot be. The two behaviors are similar only in that they, like much else we do, are factors in health. There is no secondhand eating. Nor can there be “no overeating” sections of restaurants and airplanes. Overeating and unhealthy foods are fuzzily, subjectively, and variously defined, whereas we can all agree on what smoking and cigarettes are. What that means is that unhealthy foods will remain widely available — even more available than cigarettes, which can still be found at any corner store. If history is any guide, food availability and diversity are likely to increase, not decrease.

Journalistic train wreck

S. Dakota Indian Foster Care 1: Investigative Storytelling Gone Awry by Edward Schumacher-Matos

A year long investigation led to a three part radio series with serious allegations of moral, financial and legal malfeasance.  The ombudsman of the news organization, NPR, then spent a year and a half investigating allegations that the substantial majority of the news report was misleading and factually incorrect.  As with any major dust-up there are points and counter-points.  It appears though that, on balance, the ombudsman is right, that the report departed from the organization’s own journalistic standards and ethics in material ways.

It is worth reading to reinforce 1) that there are always two perspectives (or more), 2) that even reporting from organizations with resources and a reputation for integrity can be dramatically wrong, 3) that misplaced and unquestioned assumptions were likely a material contributor to a journalistic train wreck, 4) that a compelling narrative arc is no substitute for factual accuracy, 5) that context is critical, and 6) journalistic accolades and awards can go to reports that are materially wrong.

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