Wednesday, 19 December 2007

BBC diet stories: more failure to investigate agendas

From the BBC recently: Medieval diets 'far more healthy', which links to an older item, Americans look to Jesus for diet. Spot the connection. They're both stories about diets attributed to doctors: the first, "Dr Roger Henderson ... a Shropshire GP"; the second, "Don Colbert, a Florida doctor". The problem is that this completely fails to explain to the reader where these sources are coming from.
      Dr Roger Henderson is not just any old GP, but a media newspaper columnist and PR consultant, and as the ''Telegraph'' version of this story reports and you can read in the press release, Romans and Tudors were healthier than modern Britons, the research was commissioned by Lloydspharmacy. The thrust appears to be scare readers about cholesterol in the modern diet and, handily, Andy Murdock, Pharmacy Director for Lloydspharmacy has the remedy: "...it’s vital that people take whatever steps they can to reduce their chances of suffering modern conditions such as high cholesterol. To help people identify their level of risk we’ve launched a heart and cholesterol check at Lloydspharmacy".
      Don Colbert is likewise not just any Florida doctor but a celebrity TV doctor/evangelist (see drcolbert.com) whose products include What Would Jesus Eat? The Ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great and Living Longer, the What Would Jesus Eat Cookbook and various associated supplements.
      This was findable with trivial Googling, and in any case would be in the press releases behind the stories. Why does the BBC not report this? Perhaps it's policy and they think it makes the stories non-commercial. But it doesn't; omitting the commercial back-story makes those interests effectively covert, and hides from readers that they're being sold something.

1 comment:

apgaylard said...

Good point. I've come up with a couple of stories from the BBC that could easily have been checked out with google. For some reason the BBC don't seem to google. Perhaps we should try and sell them a "Googling for Beginners" course?