Journalists of the future make a vaccine documentary

I was out late last night for a function related to my work. As a result, by the time I got home I was too tired to blog. (I know, I know, how can a Tarial-cell powered megacomputer ever get tired?) However, I did have enough time this morning before work to act on a tip I got from some of my readers, not having perused one of the wretchedest of the wretched hives of scum and quackery in a couple of days. It turns out that the chief propagandist at the antivaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism has unleashed the cranks on a bunch of high school students who made what sounds like an excellent broadcast about vaccine exemptions, parental fears of vaccines, and the antivaccine movement, described at NCTimes.com in an article entitled CARLSBAD: Award-winning broadcast class tackles documentary on vaccines:

For the award-winning Carlsbad High School broadcast class, summer break this year meant another documentary.

The 16-student crew tackled the issue of immunizations in North County, an area with the second lowest compliance rate for vaccinations in the state of California.

“We are looking at why,” said Camille Posard, who graduated in June from Carlsbad High and helped produce the documentary.

To understand the science behind vaccines —- and why some parents shun them —- the film crew interviewed professionals in the field of immunization including Dr. Mark Sawyer of Rady Children’s Hospital and Dr. Eric Couchesne, director of UCSD’s Autistic Center of Excellence.

“They are concerned that there is a perception that vaccinations cause autism when science has proved that it does not,” said Doug Green, who teaches the class.

Anne Dachel, in her usual inimitable deceptive manner, characterizes it this way:

I was hopeful that a class in broadcast journalism might actually tackle this issue an ethical and balanced manner. Sadly, it was clear from what I read that these students were being taught to report on questions of vaccine safety in the same one-sided manner the mainstream media has for years. This class assignment was a HOW-TO GUIDE on how to deceive the public by covering up relevant facts about a major issue.

She then did what antivaccine cranks always do: Try to flood the comments with antivaccine propaganda:

Actually, Green’s wrong. This documentary won’t change anyone’s thinking on this issue. What was produced here was propaganda. People everywhere (especially parents) will recognize the bias. They’ve heard it all before. There is too much information available on the Internet to challenge what was said by the vaccine promoters interviewed for this film.

Anne’s so good at destroying irony meters, isn’t she? The master propagandist accusing a bunch of talented high school kids making a documentary that comes to a conclusion she didn’t like? I had a major chuckle when I read that. Then she includes a whole bunch of links to antivaccine posts about things that I rebutted. For instance, she makes the risible claim that the antivaccine propaganda piece The Greater Good “tells both sides.” Yeah, kind of like its producer Leslie Manookian moderating a pseudodebate between the antivaccine crank Dr. Julian Whitaker and my good bud Steve Novella and making it very clear where she stands. I also reviewed her antivaccine propaganda movie here. “Telling both sides” apparently means framing things in a way that makes it sound as though vaccines are making children autistic and even killing them.

I’ll certainly keep an eye out for this documentary, so that I can watch it when it’s completed. Hopefully, these kids will “get it” and realize that there aren’t always two sides to every story, at least not two sides of anywhere near equal validity, and that it’s the job of a journalist not just to “present both sides” but to evaluate both sides and assign appropriate weight to them.

I also note that this group has also done a documentary on one of my other interests:

The Carlsbad High School broadcast class is perhaps best known for its Holocaust documentary “We Must Remember,” produced in 2009, which has won statewide and national accolades.

It sounds like an excellent program, and these kids appear to be getting great training.

In any case, if you’re so inclined, please head on over and lend some tactical air support to the journalism students at the article where the antivaccine contingent is frolicking. Then think about heading on over to CHSTV and encouraging the next generation of journalists.