Now more than ever, there is a need for accurate health communication.
For those of you who may not know me, I’m a medical doctor in Canada. Last year, I also started my MA in Journalism at the University of Miami because I’m interested in the field of health communication. My fellow MA Journalism classmates and I produced this short video about CBD, or cannabidiol, which is an active ingredient found in the hemp plant. We were interested in knowing, is CBD safe and effective? Today, we are screening our film at the annual New York Sate Communication Association’s Annual Conference. If you missed the video before, you can check it out here:
In medicine, when I want to answer a question, I consult the evidence. The body of available research. What does science tell us? Instead of always turning to the literature, in journalism, I consult multiple people. I may interview 3 or 4 individuals to hear their experiences and opinions, allowing audiences to come to their own conclusions. Medicine often fails at taking into account the story behind the person. Journalism can help with this.
As we’re seeing in the current global pandemic and U.S. election, misinformation seems to be at an all-time high. This is in the context that facts are not constant. They change.
I’m reading a book called The Half-life of Facts. Things that we thought we once knew are no longer accurate. When graduating medical school, I was told that half of everything I learned will be obsolete in a matter of several years. We are now seeing facts change in real time. Don’t wear a mask, wear a mask. Be worried about surfaces transmitting COVID, don’t worry about surfaces.
Whether it’s CBD or COVID-19, as science advances, what we thought we knew is becoming obsolete. It is now more important than ever for scientists and journalists to have a media strong presence for accurate health communication of what we know. (At least for now).