Consider the source

One of the women I most admire in the world once leaned forward meaningfully during my rant about a silly person and said "consider the source." It is advice I too often fail to heed.

Eating disorders in the media is a good reminder of this principle. Especially in the world of Google search and keyword searches and - ahem - bloggers, it is too easy to confuse having a voice and needing to be heard. I get indignant over headlines that I know people are going to read over and over, celebrities with Oprah-level coverage but no clue, low level academic "journal" pieces that must have been accepted at random but will be pointedly cited. I chafe because I know these shiny objects will have influence on public opinion and mislead vulnerable families in urgent need of good information but I also need to separate whether something GETS attention and whether it SHOULD.

One thing most of us in the eating disorder world agree on is the great need for better media coverage and research and educational materials. What we disagree on is what direction it should take and what the content should be. I do wish I could create a vast parent-friendly sense-permeable filter to the Internet and all media but it's futile to concentrate on that. Better to focus on arming parents to do that filtering on their own.

I will consider the source, and gauge my response and blood pressure accordingly.

P.S. I will break this lofty rule, probably inside a week, but I will try.
P.P.S. Katie sent this automated Daily Mail headline generator in the comments - and it is RIOTOUSLY funny:


  1. Laura, was that a random pic of the Daily Mail or did you choose it specially? Absolutely perfect, beyond parody.

    Blood Pressure and The Media; someone should do a study!

    Erica (B)

  2. I've just downloaded the whole paper you link to in European Eating Disorders Review and will read it later when I have an hour to spare.

    I must admit to having been extremely frustrated with the media reporting of EDs in the past. Nowadays I just don't bother. Newspaper and magazine journalists focus on what sells, and unfortunately what sells is sensationalised 'crap', and gossip.

    It must be much harder for young people nowadays who develop EDs to not be misunderstood, because of the media obsession with what journalists imagine an ED to be (often vanity, trying to emulate a celebrity etc.). At least when my AN started in the 1970s few people outside of the medical profession had heard of AN and erroneous assumptions about the nature of AN didn't become embellished in the way that they do nowadays.

    As far as I'm concerned, EDs are serious mental illnesses that people don't choose to have, and these illnesses are not caused by attempts to emulate skinny celebrities (or other common myths).

    And I agree, Laura, with your comment about "low level academic 'journal' pieces that must have been accepted at random but will be pointedly cited".

    It really isn't difficult to publish in low level 'academic' journals. Yet, even some of the better respected journals like 'The Lancet' have been known to publish some wacky ideas, or poorly researched studies.

  3. Tee hee - no coincidence! I'm glad you think so, too. Male menopause! Legalize drugs!

    I'm sure Cathy will enjoy as well!

    I'd like that research too, but imagine the headlines: "High blood pressure causes sensationalist media!"

  4. Laura

    If you don't read the DM on a regular basis (and I don't), I would ask Cathy to add you to her morning rant about it! She likes to start the day getting all riled up about the more bizzare (and nationalistic) things that pass for news.

    I am hoping she is going to restart the morning email again soon as, now half-term is over, I do miss a nice bit of nonsense in the morning.


  5. Thanks, Laura!
    The one periodical that I believe is behind its writers to accurately report on Ed's as well as progress is the Wall Street Journal. Lately the articles appear either in the Tuesday Health Section or, in the case of the news release re the Maudsley Method, in the front section. Pretty terrific to see this change.

  6. Lol, Charlotte, I have read plenty of **** in the Daily Mail of late, most of it about X Factor (the American Idol equivalent for those of you in USA). What gets to me is that a lot of this drivel is in the section titled 'femail', which I find terribly insulting! But what do we expect from a world that offers degrees in Celebrity Journalism or modules on the life and works of Lady Gaga? I have tried very hard (believe me..) but I just don't 'get' celebrity culture...

    As for the Daily Mail 'health' section (that's a hoot), with titles like Eating Apples Cures 'Flu. I made that one up but you'll get the gist...

  7. There is actually a "Daily Mail headlines generator" somewhere online, you click on a button and it comes out with these titles like "Hoodie immigrants use benefits to cause cancer!", basically putting as many DM cliches into one sentence! It's fabulous, and it's here -

  8. Oh, it is TOO funny! I can't stop! Go try it, everyone!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts