Naming and Praising Awards – February 2004
Yet another SIRC ‘Naming and Praising’ Award goes to Jeremy Laurance, the Independent’s Health Editor, for two of his recent articles.
In a piece headed Health Check: ‘There was something strange about the study. The data appeared to contain much that was good news for drinkers’ on 2 February, he comments on a study published in the journal Addiction. Unlike other journalists who were content simply to parrot the ‘warning to women’ spin that the study’s authors chose to put on their findings, Laurance took the trouble to look at the data, which actually indicated that ‘heavier’ drinkers had a lower risk of heart disease and premature death than moderate drinkers. He put this point to the lead author of the study, who conceded that "You haven’t said anything that is factually incorrect but I would urge caution on that interpretation". He concludes, rather charitably, that the researchers’ interpretation was perhaps "subconsciously" influenced by their anxiety not to undermine ‘sensible drinking’ messages.
In Advice to avoid sun should be reversed, say cancer experts, on 31 January, Laurance examines another tenet of health-correctness: the notion that ‘there is no such thing as a healthy tan’ — and again shows that even its advocates know that this warning exaggerates the risks and is probably draconian and unnecessary, or, as they put it, "rather strident".
This is the kind of accurate, intelligent, responsible reporting – treating readers as adults who can cope with uncertainties and shades of grey — that the SIRC/RS/RI Guidelines and the SIRC ‘Naming and Praising’ Awards are trying to encourage.
03 February 2004