Every week, Syracuse University professor Aileen Gallagher helps Longreads highlight the best of college journalism. Here’s this week’s pick:

The Internet may have turned us all into self diagnosticians, but we still crave health guidance from the media. “Eat this, not that,” admonishes Dave Zinczenko. Exercise 30 minutes a day, three times a week. Or 10 minutes, three times a day. But writer Stephanie Maris suggests that it’s not just conflicting science that confuses us, it’s bad health reporting. In her compelling critique of health journalism, Maris identifies why readers love health and wellness news, and how journalists can sometimes confound more than elucidate.

“…[I]n many ways health reporting has come to mimic tabloid entertainment: stories on nutrition, fitness and lifestyle are ubiquitous and hard to sift through, which makes it difficult to separate fact from fiction. The result is a cycle of (often inaccurate) “bad for you” and “next big thing” stories that risk discrediting the entire health beat. On top of that, in place of real health help, readers and viewers are left following a potentially harmful “Media Diet” based on miracle cures, fad diets, superfoods and food scares.”

The Media Diet

Stephanie Maris | Ryerson Review of Journalism | Jan. 8, 2013 | 14 minutes (3,561 words)


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