Media Reporting of the Vaccination Debate
In Australia many journalists are refusing to present the scientific evidence published in peer-reviewed journals that questions the use of many vaccines. Jane Hansen, a journalist for News Ltd, stated she would not report on the research I presented at the 3rd World Congress on Cancer Science and Therapy (San Francisco, October 2013). My paper was titled HPV vaccines have not been shown to be cost-effective in countries with comprehensive Pap screening and surgery’ and it was published in the journal Infectious Agents and Cancer (June 12 2013 Vol 8: 21). This research was also presented at the Controlling Cancer Summit at the European Science Conference in London (May 2014).
The reason Jane Hansen stated for not reporting on this published research was because I am not a medical doctor. Yet my research has also been published in the conference proceedings for the British Society of Ecological Medicine (BSEM 2011) and reported by the ABC in the On-line Health Report in 2011 Evidence for HPV Vaccination Questioned.
Another News Ltd journalist, Rick Morton, did report on the presentation I gave at the US Cancer Science and Therapy conference but he presented false and misleading information about this conference and did not report on the research on the HPV vaccine that I presented. Here is a link to the misinformation provided by Rick Morton, in the Australian Newspaper (28 January 2014). In other words, journalists are selecting the academic research they will present to the public with validity.
Media and the Vaccination Debate
News limited papers and other media outlets, such as the ABC, are informing the public that consumer concerns about the safety and efficacy of vaccines are based on “conspiracy theories and dangerous misinformation”. Janet Albrechtsen, a columnist for the The Australian Newspaper (News Ltd), made this statement in reply to requests, that these researched arguments be published in the mainstream media. Another journalist, Sarrah Le Maurquand demonstrated in her reply that journalists are not being encouraged to investigate this issue or to think for themselves. Again this journalist suggested that this research was part of a ‘conspiracy theory and misinformation’.
Australian journalists and government ministers are required to represent all stakeholders and it must be demonstrated that non-biased science is being used in public health policy. Instead the mainstream media is informing the public that any questioning of the science is a ‘conspiracy theory’ and that ‘there is no other side to this debate.’ This was stated by Caroline Marcus from the Telegraph (April 2013) and Jonathon Holmes from Media Watch in October 2012.
The media is also presenting Dr. Rachael Dunlop as a ‘pro-vaccine advocate’ without informing the public of her position as Vice-President of the Australian Skeptics: a lobby group that is is not an health organisation. Rachael Dunlop, is not a medical doctor and she has presented misinformation on her blog. Many other subscribers of this lobby group are also using similar strategies to confuse the public about the science. Therefore it is important that Rachael Dunlop’s position in this lobby group is openly declared to the public when she presents information.
In January 2013 I made a complaint to the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) about the lack of balance in the media regarding the debate on vaccination. A more detailed account of my complaint can be found in Attachment B of the ACMA report. The ACMA investigated my complaint and supported the right of journalists to not present the scientific evidence that provides evidence of the dangers of vaccines. There can be no public debate if the science is not presented accurately and this puts public health at risk. Here is a link to the ACMA report upholding the unbalanced reporting of the vaccination debate in the media.
A book exposing the influence of industry on government policy is Vaccine Epidemic edited by the Center for Personal Rights. Globally there are many funded lobby groups who are putting out misinformation in the mainstream media and on social websites to influence public behaviour. The influence of these groups on the debate in Australia can be viewed on the Lobby group page of this website. Doctor’s responses to the information presented on this website can be viewed here.
Medical professionals in the 21st century are now receiving their accreditation from industry sponsored conferences. In the US the education of medical professionals is controlled by the Accreditation Council of Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). This board accredits companies to participate in the education of medical professionals. In the US pharmaceutical companies fund 60% of doctor’s education and ACCME has accredited over 100 for-profit companies that are hired by drug companies to provide medical education to doctors (Marcia Angell MD, ex-chief editor of the New England Journal Medicine). This information is not impartial because it is supplied by companies employed by the drug companies (Angell, 2005). In addition , more than half of ACCME board members are employed by pharmaceutical companies and industry. Conflicts of interest are rife in doctors education and in decision-making boards for government policy. Whilst these do not necessarily represent a bias they need to be transparently presented to the public. Here is further information about the biased science that is being used for medical advice. Here are the declared conflicts of Interest that exist in the Australian Government’s decision-making board for vaccines
The Conversation website, that states it provides a forum for academic research to be debated by the public, also refused to present my research on the HPV vaccine. I asked the science editor twice if I could write an article on my published research but my requests were refused – even though my research has been published in peer-reviewed journals. Again this represents selective presentation of the research for public debates on vaccination.