I wrote a blog a couple of weeks ago https://paedspoliticsbiscuits.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/what-magazines-dont-tell-you/
complaining that a ‘What Doctor’s Don’t Tell You’ article, which made unhelpful and dangerous claims about environmental toxins, had come home in my daughter’s school bag. This had been reprinted by Families Oxfordshire, a free magazine acting as a frachise for Families UK.
Some of you were kind enough to add your names to my letter, in which I expressed my concerns to Pascale Gravell, who runs Families UK.
She replied yesterday, and here’s what she said (in excerpt)::
Thank you for taking the trouble to write to me, I appreciate this very much.
Families is an established group of magazines, our first edition came out in 1990. We now have around 40 local editions, and they are franchisees. At Families Head Office I commission articles from reputable journalists like Joanna Moorhead of the Guardian, sometimes I offer a piece to my franchisees written by professionals: lawyers, midwives, gardeners, health therapists etc .
For 24 years we have reported on the full breath of topics of interest to our readers. We pride ourselves in providing a range of articles on these topics but we always try to provide a balanced view. Our role is to inform, and sometimes challenge our readers‘ views. Our readers are educated professionals, we leave it to them to make up their own mind as to which advice to follow. This is why I do agree that, in printing this particular piece, we did not provide a balanced view. This piece was too opinionated, was presented as fact and presented as a one sided view. I do regret having circulated that piece. I know that some Families editions are going to publish official NHS advice to re-balance this.
As you know there is a huge movement towards a more organic, natural healthcare with more and more parents using homeopathy, acupuncture etc. We have reported on these topics on many occasions, and yes, we have tried to say these MAY help, rather than definitely will! I am pleased to see that the NHS is slowly incorporating these therapies into its offering.
Only a few weeks ago a professor from Southampton University argued that advice on children’s sun exposure may have to be revised, see attached. I am not able to argue with him, nor with you as to the veracity of any of his points for the good reason that I am not a scientist. I can, however, present his views to my readership, admittedly with a proviso that these are his views only and remind readers of the current NHS advice. This is what we have done for the last 24 yrs and, as I said, I do recognise we slipped on this instance.”
I’m reproducing this with her permission, not to shout WE WON, because that’s not why I wrote to her, but to thank her for her gracious and balanced reply.
It must be clear that Ms Gravell and I do not agree on everything, but what I think she has done is remind us that such debates should be conducted with due humility about what we don’t know, as well as striving to understand what we do.
So thank you, Pascale, for renewing my faith in the power of calm, reasoned discussion (and sending me a lot of reading to do on the train!).
Oh, and to the abusive troll who has been ‘commenting’ since I posted the original blog, you do not represent people who hold alternative health beliefs, so take your supercilious BS and sod off.