Monday, November 16, 2009

Media Literacy - Get Edumacated

Dealing with a chronic disease you get a lot of information throw at you. Most of it bad. With diabetes, I've certainly had to sift through a huge amount of misinformation. Or I should say misinformation about what works for me. For example, going to the American Diabetes Association message boards, you would think we were all confined to lives on the Atkins diet. That is effective for some people. Not good for me. I got plenty of bad misinformation from my primary care doctor who told me to reduce my morning blood sugar level, I should eat less carbs. As it turns out (and a piece of info I got from my dietician Aunt), my blood sugar level went down when I had a snack just before going to sleep.

It's particularly depressing when you try any journalism piece, whether written on televised, about health. They are, for the most part, utter crap. You see, the news media defines news and something that's new and different. That mostly means letting us know when things aren't working. It's not news when something that is designed to work actually does work. Let's look at sex. There's tons and tons of stories about teens going nuts on the oral sex and the sexting and the pregnancies. But the actual research shows that sex ed and contraception works and that teen pregnancy rates have gone down over the last 20 years. Check it But hey, let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

In regards to reporting on health, it's suckers harder than a dyson vacuum. Seriously, a completely untested bra that purports to prevent breast cancer is news? As someone who is an avid media consumer (because I BLOG!), I got all happy inside to stumble on this site. They are a group of smarty mcsmartersons who review articles on health for accuracy and quality of reporting. I could spend all day on it if my work would let me. But reading through the reviews, you begin to get skills about what to look for in a health article. I'd highly recommend it.

For example, here's a list of seven words that shouldn't be used in medical news:

Years ago, the publisher of this site wrote an essay with the above title. The words were:
• Cure
• Miracle
• Breakthrough
• Promising
• Dramatic
• Hope
• Victim

BTW, they decided to stop reviewing television health stories because they blow.

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