Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Another lesson in editors and context

Posted by Craig Westover | 12:17 PM |  

Two of the points I made in this post about the Pioneer Press story on blogs and the 2006 elections were that blogs and the mainstream media have, and could have, a greater synergistic effect and MSM reporters don’t always have context for the issues they are covering. Blogs can often provide that context.

Case in point. On December 15th the local section of the Miami Herald (a Knight Ridder Newspaper) ran this story “Mercury-free flu shots are now available for children.” Given my interest in the autism/mercury connection, I picked up the story the next day and posted it here, along with links to the broader thimerosal controversy. Today, the Pioneer Press picked up the Knight Ridder story.

My point is, a Pioneer Press Health editor had the news sense to run the piece, but not the curiosity to ask “so what?” Why is mercury in flu shots even a concern? Today's space is filled, but will we see a follow-up on the larger story? If a person just reads the Pioneer Press, does he know why he should be concerned about flu shots containing mercury?

And if you still want to talk about editors, information in the picked up story about the availability of mercury-free flu shots, which is highlighted by the Pioneer Press in a culled quote, relates specifically to Miami. It may or may not be true in Minnesota, but either the Miami-specific nature of the information should be noted or a little reporting done to verify that such is the case in Minnesota.

Kudos to the Pioneer Press for running this story, but once again, here’s an example where having editors does not always equal the best information for readers.

Category: Journalism