As an expecting father I find myself drawn toward health news for pregnancy and infants, so this New York Times article about children suffering from sleep apnea caught my eye. I was happy to focus on a health piece because these types of articles have real-life impact for many readers. Now, when a child begins snoring in their sleep, parents who read this will likely want to discuss it with their pediatrician.

As I evaluated the sources I quickly came to trust them because of their titles. First, we have Barrett Treadway’s mother. Clearly, Mrs. Treadway is a subject matter expert of her daughter’s sleep habits, even admitting herself that she became aware of how severe the issue was after sharing a bed with her child. Then we have Dr. David Gozal, a pediatric sleep specialist, whose title literally refers to every aspect of this story. Not to mention he and colleagues published research in 2008 in this area in Pediatric Neurology. And finally, we have yet another medical professional with published credentials. Carole L. Marcus, a professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and her colleagues conducted research on the benefits of the positive airway pressure (PAP) machine with children.

Given the two medical professionals’ titles and their articles in peer-reviewed publications, I trust these sources whole-heartedly.

This article is a great example of journalism of verifications because focuses on a well-researched topic and answering questions. I researched Jane Brody, the author, and found that she’s an award winning columnist who has been reporting on medicine and biology for almost 50 years. Given her long history of writing in this field, I have a sense of trust with the reporter’s knowledge.

Given that it is not unusual for a doctor to wear multiple hats, I did an online check of their names to ensure they had no affiliation with a company that produces PAP machines or weight-loss products for children. Since I found no affiliations that would suggest their research had other motives, I feel confident that these sources were well-chosen for this story.

Overall, I believe article is sound and credible Brody did a good job of just gathering the facts and sticking to the story rather than add bias or his own personal opinion.

  1. Bloggers play an interesting role in the world of communications. Anyone can have a blog – and while that’s great for giving a voice to the “little guy,” it can also be very dangerous because some people truly believe that if it’s online, it’s legitimate. There are some very well-researched bloggers, who are attempting to serve a purpose or fill an information void, but it has been my experience that these are the exception to the rule. Typically, bloggers use their platform to produce poorly referenced Op-Ed pieces. Of course, as you read my blog I’ll do my best to be in the minority category! If the blogger is making a statement, it’s important to scan for a source. Whenever I’m looking at a story from a blog, if I don’t see a source and the headline or first couple sentences indicate they’re taking a stand on a subject, I’ll stop reading. I have a lot of people I work with and interact with and I can get opinions from them. If a blogger is attempting to inform or sway a topic’s discussion I want some solid reporting, not just their observations. As far as trusting non-professionals, I will say that journalism is a lot more like a trade than many professions. I don’t think it requires a four-year degree to contribute to the field of journalism, but I do think there has to be some mentoring and even some on-the-job training. A lot of the mistakes I made in my early days reporting were rectified in the newsroom after class. So, if a non-professional is passionate and learns the skills of our trade and does their best to apply them, I think they can definitely contribute trustworthy products to the industry.
  2. Social media has done to spreading information what the airplane did to transportation. It’s taken something that existed already and made it incredibly faster and, in doing so, spread messages around the world. Whenever talk of social media and its impact arises, I always think of the Arab Spring. Twitter became the world’s eyes and ears at the front-line of civilian unrest. Social media was not only responsible for sharing this information with the world, but it also helped the organizers of these events share information with the local public, and people on the street coordinate with each other. People could find out where protests were happening, where there was violence, and what was going to happen next on their phone. This real-time information led to masses converging and demonstrating against their governments.

References:
Arab Spring. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 28, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Spring

Brody, Jane. (2015, July 27). Snoring Children May Suffer From Sleep Apnea. Retrieved July 28, 2015, from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/27/snoring-children-may-suffer-from-sleep-apnea/?ref=health

Brody, Jane. (n.d.) Jane Brody’s Bio. Retrieved July 29, 2015 from http://janebrody.net/bio.html

Advertisements