This episode of Mediawatch was about a TV station – the Illawarra’s Win TV – acting with integrity and presenting both sides of the vaccination debate: as investigative journalists are required to do. In this case, Win TV was presenting a story about measles and it mentioned the possible link between MMR vaccine and autism. Whilst many doctors and medical associations are claiming that the link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been discredited there are many consumers and doctors who believe there is a causal link between the use of multiple vaccines (not just the MMR vaccine) and autism. Yet Jonathon Holmes informed the public that there was a consensus among doctors and scientists about the discrediting of this link. There is no consensus on this science and doctors and scientists are divided on this issue.
Jonathon Holmes asserts in this program that consumers (a major stakeholder in vaccines) are not entitled to present the science that questions the safety of vaccines. He suggests that including consumers in the vaccination debate represents a ‘false balance’ and he states that the scientific arguments presented by consumers are just ‘bulldust’.
This may be Jonathon Holme’s opinion but he should not be trying to influence public opinion with his unscientific arguments. This is not the job of an investigative journalist.
If Jonathon Holmes had properly investigated both sides of the debate he would have found there are many doctors who are questioning the safety of multiple vaccines in infants. Some of these doctors have formed the International Medical Council on Vaccination (IMCV) and they have a website at the following link www.vaccinationcouncil.org/about/
Jonathon Holmes is hindering public debate by preventing the public from seeing this valid scientific evidence. Consumers are a major stakeholder in vaccines and they have a right to present the scientific arguments that support their perspective about vaccine safety. These scientific arguments are equally valid to those of the medical profession. Jonathon Holmes is not properly representing the skills that are required of investigative journalists and without balanced scientific debates new knowledge cannot be generated.
Channel 10’s the Project has adopted a similar position. It states ‘We are not obliged to provide equal time and space to unscientific and dangerous viewpoints’. The public does not expect Channel 10 to provide space to ‘unscientific’ viewpoints, they expect channel 10 to abide by the journalistic code and report on “all” the science in a scientific debate. The media is providing misinformation to the public on a very important health issue and this is dangerous to population health.