Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bye Bye Parent Dish: Me, Arianna and The Serious Journalists

Me and Parent Dish are over.

Arianna Huffington kicked me and Naked Data to the social media curb. 

Not personally, mind you, but in an official email from one of her hench-persons sent in the middle of the night to no doubt many hundreds of freelancers on the AOL payroll.  Apparently it's part of an effort to build a more professional, serious stable of full-time journalists who won't be tempted to freelance elsewhere.

Not sure how that includes the 6,000-plus unpaid (i.e. not professional) bloggers hanging at Huffington Post. 

Speaking of HuffPo...

How does that new dedication to journalistic rigor square with the heavy influx of celebrity gossip?

On today's "front page" - I've been treated to such compelling news as this - Sharon Stone, age 52, still looks good in a bikini, Emma Watson left Brown (who?), and Johnathan Franzen keeps pot in his fridge (big suprise).  Terribly crucial news.  That said, two-thirds of the page is crammed with every which kind of national and international political seriousness including the killing of an American journalist in Libya. 

I'd like Huffpo a lot better if Arianna didn't sacrifice scientific savvy in deference to the alternative-medicine (not that it's bad, just untested), high quack-quotient contingent - like Deepak Choprah's wellness empire and David Kirby's high-profile mission to link autism to vaccines.  

True, some great pieces come from the site, especially the more socio-political ones.  So while everyone goes around praising the journalism going on there I'm left wondering why politics equal serious journalism and scientific-based information gets kicked to the curb? It's not just HuffPo's bias, it's pretty much everywhere. 

So please, Arianna, if you do care about accuracy and honesty, show us your evidence!  If she's really serious she'd hire some more editors and writers trained in the hard and soft sciences.   

As for hard-core health science writers, the Huffpo has an interview with Gary Taubes, yeah, Toxic Sugar Guy, a journalist and trained scientist who's written plenty about ironically, what we don't know (i.e. exercise causes weight loss) and the trouble with bad science.  Conveniently enough, he's landed a story in last Sunday's New York Times magazine (Is Sugar Toxic?) and a Q and A today on HuffPo - just in time for his new book - Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It.  Hint: stop eyeing that donut.

Gary Taubes and The New York Times: Toxic Temptation or Simple Pleasure?
 Haven't read the book or the entire NY Times sugar saga yet - but gonna have to pay attention as Mr. Taubes hasn't been particularly scared or convinced of anything, in fact, pretty much told us we didn't know enough about anything. He bashed low-fat diets years back, so the man is not fazed by the prospect of controversy.

In any event I'm still stuffing the plastic eggs with plenty of chocolate and jelly beans that will mostly be left untouched.  As many of you know, it's the thrill of the hunt, not the consumption of the sugary spoils.  Witness the left over Halloween and Valentine's candy 3 days after said holiday.  The chocolate eggs will melt and re-congeal before they're eaten this weekend.  We'll even find a few in the bushes come summer.

I've already gotten wind of a group email gone amok telling folks to read the sugar story - all in the name of promoting good health.

Terrific timing for the arrival of our furry friend this Sunday.  Happy Easter to those who "celebrate" or otherwise condone sacrificing our children's future health and well-being for some short-lived pleasure. Don't even think about having more than a glass of wine.  

6 comments:

TherExtras said...

I vote with my mouse and do.not.read Huph-po. Phooey on them for not recognizing your excellent writing and interpretation of science in the news.

If a publication is wrong or imho near-unreal in those things I know about (how to interpret research on child development) - why would I trust them on any other topic?

The sugar-daddy article/book will not cross my screen either.

Egg-hunting is an excellent childhood game! Our seasonal 'basket' is a gift we received a week ago. Can't wait to break into the Ghiredelli chocolate!

Barbara

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

How were the eggs? Need I ask? As predicted, kids ate a few chocolates, ran around and will maybe have a couple today then forget them altogether...

Barbara said...

Also

Their loss. (You)

I look forward to your take on the sugar saga.
Barbara

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Thanks, Barbara!

janetlansbury said...

Agree with Barbara -- TOTALLY their loss, and I can't tell you how grateful I am for your online voice.

Sorry to go off-topic... I tried to email you a burning question, but couldn't figure out the configuring I had to do to open the account on Outlook.(I'm a little slow with the tech stuff.) I wanted to ask your opinion about the infant flat-head issue and how/if it relates to the "Back to Sleep" program. Do you think the proliferation of new cases reflects an increase in medical attention to the issue or are the flat heads actually becoming a bigger problem? And do you think the interventions...helmets, etc. are necessary, or does this problem usually resolve itself? Have you seen studies? Would love to know what you think...since I'll be writing a guest post about the "tummy time" issue for a baby site and am hoping to quote you (whether your research agrees with my POV or not). :)

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Hey Janet! Good to hear from you! It sounds like my "email me" button is not working. Anyhow, my address is polly (dot) palumbo (at) gmail (dot) com if you ever need to reach me! Interesting quex about the flat heads, seem to think I've read the Back to Sleep is implicated, as is lots of time in the infant car seat/carrier. Not familiar with the research but can look into it for you. You know I enjoy checking out the evidence as it were. Do you have any studies in mind? Sounds like an interesting article, where else do you write? I'll have to "tune" in!!