After reading today’s entry from one of my favorite food allergy bloggers, the Nut-Free Mom (www.nut-freemom.blogspot.com), I was yet again reminded that not every journalist is made equal. Some are fantastic, some are medicore and some are downright awful. The Nut Free Mom writes about Dr. Hugh Sampson’s objection to a journalist in Harpers Magazine stating that all food allergies are pyschosomatic and that kids don’t really die from food allergic reactions. Kudos to Dr. Sampson for setting the record straight.
Another “journalist” professed his own theory in last week’s LA Times OP ED piece. Joel Stein’s “Yuppie Invention” talks about how food allergies aren’t all that big of a deal. Here are his written low lights:
“It is strange how peanut allergies are only an issue in rich, lefty communities”
“Genes certainly don’t cause 25 % (hey Joel, you should have checked your AP stylebook; percent is written out. Remember?) of parents to behave that their kids have food allergies, when 4 % do. Yuppiedom does.
“Your kid doesn’t have an allergy to nuts. Your kid has a parent who needs to feel special. Your kid also spends recess running and screaming “No! Stop! Don’t rub my head with peanut butter!”
Mr. Stein closes his article with the very scientific observation that he once downed a lot of peanuts at a bar, and his throat became tingly. He chased down some beer and forgot all about it. Brilliant writing.
When I was in journalism school I lived and breathed all things Edward R. Murrow. In case some of you don’t know who Murrow was, he was the pioneer in broadcast journalism who set the highest standard for other journalists. Two of my favorite Murrow quotes came to mind when reading Mr. Stein’s piece:
“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices – just recognize them.”
“To be persuasive we must be believable, to be believable we must be credible, to be credible we must be truthful”.
Truthful Mr. Stein was not. Instead, he was outrageous, uneducated and quite frankly an embarrassment to the code of ethics set forth by journalists. Check your facts, be truthful, put your own agenda aside and respect the power that has been granted to you. The freedom of the press is so important we protect it in the contstitution, but when wannabe journalists like Mr. Stein abuse their platforms to write stupid articles it is an abuse to all journalists. Viewers and readers across the country are losing their trust in the media. We expect more. And as Newton Minnow once predicted that TV would become “a vast wasteland”, the print media is just as guilty.
In the meantime, I thought I’d pass on Mr. Stein’s email address. Let’s try to educate him as well as hold him accountable for his careless writing.