Multimedia StoryTelling

By the students of MCJ300 at The University of Southern Mississippi

HPV Vaccine and Reporting “All Sides”

leave a comment »

It’s a tough day for someone who wants to report the news in a balanced way.

Few issues could be more difficult to tackle than vaccinations. On one hand, we know that the fairly new HPV vaccines (Gardasil being the most popular) have enormous public health benefits. Gardasil in is credited with preventing the kind of HPV that causes cervical cancer and other cancers (YIKES!) as well as the kind that causes genital warts (EWW!). But critics say HPV vaccines in particular are responsible for a range of conditions as well as dozens of deaths. The CDC has kept track of reported negative effects caused by the vaccine, and of the thousands of reported effects, only 7.4 percent were deemed “serious” this year. (“Serious” means hospitalization, prolongation of an existing hospitalization, permanent disability, life-threatening illness, or death). Despite the relatively low number of serious problems with the vaccines, advocates continue to lament the drugs’ dangers, even going as far as citing a debunked study linking the HPV vaccine to autism. (Here’s how it was debunked.)

So when Katie Couric decided to give what I would call undue weight to the anecdotal claims of some parents on her show today, the media criticism world went nuts. (All separate links there.)

Whether your job is to deliver information or entertainment (or in Couric’s case, maybe both), I feel that public health and safety should be regarded as a top priority. In class we talked about giving too much weight to certain ideas in an effort to showcase “all sides” of a story–the concept of false equivalency. Some opinions are perhaps so irrelevant that we should start calling them “corners” instead of “sides.” However, in this case, there is a really vocal and organic movement of concerned parents that demand their side be heard. I actually feel bad for Katie Couric’s staff because any decision about the coverage of this issue is going to piss off a lot of people.


Written by jarodkeith

December 6, 2013 at 12:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: