WGA Report Supports CMD's 'Stop Fake News' Campaign

More bad and disturbing news about the decline and corruption of TV journalism, a term that seems almost an oxymoron. "Broadcast Newswriters Speak About News Quality," an in-depth investigation from the AFL-CIO Writers Guild of America East, buoys the findings of CMD's 2006 investigations of the widespread and undisclosed airing of fake TV news. "WGA members cited 'daily' and 'chronic' use of VNRs in some of their newsrooms." Among the report's recommendation are "support for the Center For Media and Democracy's proposals for video news releases" and "make infractions to these public interest requirements punishable by fine and require adherence to these standards for license renewal."


Anyone who has read my past posts knows I am at odds with the conventional views on fatness in this society. But even I was floored with how the media presented the "obesity is contagious" study this past weekend. The study was extremely limited - they did not ask people how many friends they had, how often they see them, how many are fat vs thin etc. Instead, they looked at the friends people put down as back up contacts in case researchers lost track of them. In some cases it was just one. (They were using data from a study designed for a completely different purpose!) Yet, it was uncritically hyped all over the media. The whole purpose of publishing in a journal is the peer review process. Studies need to be picked apart, then done over and over before we are comfortable with the findings. At least that is what I learned in my graduate methodology class. The media used to throw in an opposing point of view. No more. Even the MacNeil Leher Newshour played like a VNR. Not ONE criticism! They spun unlikely results like a fat friend far away one rarely sees has more influence than one's spouse or neighbor as brilliant instead of some statistical fluke. The media is even touting they proved CAUSATION. That causation can be proved from ONE study based on a computer model with such a limited, non representative sample of friends is mind boggling. Whether or not one agrees with the results of the study, the way it has been heralded in the media is downright scary. Those who don't care about stigma should be scared at the decline of scientific inquiry! Maybe not in the scientific community itself, but the way that community's results are being distorted to serve agendas.

I am glad to hear that Mutternich, but it is not just that one study. In graduate school, we had it drummed into us that causation is a VERY hard thing to prove and we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions. That they really feel they could prove causation with THAT study is scientific sacrilege. What is with PBS not asking one question??? That is just a time honored tradition. Makes me sick!!! Speaking of which, I bet the tobacco industry just loves this study. For years it has been looking for a diversion from smoking. If obesity is contagious, we can focus on that instead of second hand smoke!

p.s. I wrote a critique of this study and DailyKosed it for anyone who is interested. It is always good to have multiple sides of a story


"...but it is not just that one study."

That's why I said "always." :-)