CJR: BPA truth lies in the middle

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

In the Columbia Journalism Review, Sanhita Reddy reviews a recent STATS critique of media coverage regarding Bisphenol A and the dangers it may hold. According to Reddy, both STATS and outlets like the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel have taken overly extreme positions in the debate. While science hasn’t quite figured out the truth yet, Reddy says, it probably lies somewhere toward the center.

In an even-handed critique, Reddy disputes STATS’ attacks on popular anti-BPA source Frederick vom Saal’s credentials, but agrees that the media has been overly reliant on the University of Missouri scientist. Reddy also points out the fine line between placing more importance upon larger-scale, more valid studies (many of which are industry-sponsored) and identifying the conflicts of interest which may or may not exist alongside those industry connections.

In the end Reddy concluded that the conflict was a confusing one, but that as long as they brought a healthy dose of skepticism and took an extra look at the methods and materials sections of the research they were consulting, reporters should be able to give it fair coverage.

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