Sylvia Stead writes: To do so would be a false journalistic balance and could endanger public

By Sylvia Stead for the Globe and Mail

There’s a concept in journalism that is an exception to the normal practice of being balanced to all sides of an issue. Not so in stories where the views of one side are discredited for any number of reasons. To give equal say to those who deny climate change or those who suggest the moon landing was fake would be a false balance. (Here’s a link to a Columbia Journalism Review explanation of the concept.)

Balance is not needed when one side is discredited by science or medicine. For example, it would be irresponsible to give equal say and credence to the anti-vaccine movement.

In my view, the same is true for naturopathy. I’ve had two complaints this week about The Globe and Mail’s coverage of the death of Ezekiel Stephan and the conviction of his parents for failing to provide the necessities of life.

The toddler, who died of meningitis, had been treated by his parents with remedies that included “hot peppers, garlic, onions and horseradish,” even though as the article from The Canadian Press says, a family friend who was a nurse told them she thought the boy had meningitis.

Health reporter Carly Weeks has written extensively on the subject, including this recent article in which she asked if the public is being well served by the regulation of naturopaths.

Ms. Weeks analyzed the websites of licensed naturopaths in Toronto and found that “of the roughly 300 regulated, active Toronto naturopaths with an online presence, nearly half appear to be in breach of the college’s rules based on claims made online. The promises are wide-ranging, from naturopaths describing their services as ‘cutting-edge’ to those claiming they can reverse the course of dementia to others who make blanket statements that naturopathy can help anyone with any ailment fully restore his or her health.”

Continue reading this story on the Globe and Mail website.

Sylvia Stead is the Public Editor of the Globe and Mail.