I’ve arrived at the end of journalism and mass communication, semester one and was about to present an essay denoting what good quality journalism was and the role it plays in society. I was going to do this by contrasting a well constructed news piece with an example of the not-so-good. I’ve married this with a good grounding in the public relations industry and due to the pressure journalists face trying to fill a 24 hour news cycle, many journalists will “fill” news segments with press releases from public relations companies, who are determined to seek media exposure for their clients. It is the nature of the beast that public relations firms act in the best interests of their clients – after all, they are paid to do this. However, for the journalist, using press releases as a form of news without checking the facts first is a recipe for disaster.
You may remember I spoke about being personally attacked by a nutrition quack last year. Her name is Christine Cronau, and like her mates,”Paleo” Pete Evans and David “Avocado” Wolfe, who thrive on pseudoscience, she is represented by PR firm, McKell Media, who probably have no idea of the depths Christine will plumb in dispensing dodgy medical “advice” to her followers in order to make a buck. This is evidenced by a comment under EVERY SINGLE POST she writes, encouraging her readers to “buy her books” and advising that the answers that these poor followers seek, you guessed it, is in her book. The “advice” given to most followers is that a low carbohydrate, high fat diet will “heal” most, if not all ills. To suggest that one particular diet is the “only way” is irresponsible. If you dare dispute this, you are blocked from posting on her page. It’s akin to an atmosphere of religious zealotry, only the currency is the food we put in our mouths. McKell Media probably don’t have any idea that her tertiary qualifications in the field of nutrition are scant to say the least. Christine completed an RTO level “Advanced Diploma of Nutrition” 12 month course administered by Health Schools Australia (whose website has conveniently disappeared). There are no pre requisites to study this course ie. a Year 12 finish wasn’t even required.
To cut a long story short, it would appear that McKell Media got Christine a slot on Seven News Australia, promoting a LCHF diet as the “answer” to all of our troubles, based on a UK Obesity Forum report to which Christine was a “signatory”. This “forum” is listed as a charity, not a research organisation. The journalist in question failed to do any fact checking or research – she had fallen for some classic PR spin – “package something to look good and maybe they won’t notice”. Christine was misrepresented in the media as a dietitian. Dietitians undergo at least four years of university level study and there are stringent requirements to meet in order to gain entry into the course. Christine did not take to Social Media to dispute this misrepresentation, forcing the Dietitian’s Association of Australia to release a media statement, explaining that Christine was not a dietitian and that the DAA recommended eating according to the revised Australian Guidelines for Healthy Eating (AGHE). McKell must have been clicking their heels with delight at the media exposure their client received – “all publicity is good publicity!”. I bookmarked and saved the page – this was going to be great fodder for what constituted poor quality journalism. Now it was time to find an informed piece of journalism uncovering the promotion of, and benefits of a LCHF diet. As soon as I started my search, I received word that the Channel Seven coverage had been pulled from the internet, due to consumer complaints.
It’s time the nutrition industry was regulated to stop the likes of those who are clearly unqualified to stop dispensing their rubbish to the unsuspecting general public.
Let’s stop our Social Media “slacktivism” – as well as being appalled and horrified by the rubbish these quacks espouse, let’s take action by reporting them to the State Ombudsman or relevant health authority in our state.
Do you agree?