Recently my family and I and quite a few members of the Facebook community have been appreciating a great deal of outrage and amusement thanks to a freelance writer for the New Zealand Herald, Shelley Bridgeman. If you haven’t been delightedly blessed by her columns as we have, the gist of the outrage stems from one piece in particular - ‘Not All Families Are Created Equal' where she raves about how she never followed the medical communitys advice on child rearing.
Bridgeman didn’t breastfeed because she didn’t want to have a breast job later on in life due to saggy breasts (wait til gravity and age get you love) and she ignored warnings about SUDI (cot death) which advise parents to lie their baby on it’s back as she didn’t want her baby to have a flat head. And anyway, breastfeeding and the warnings about SUDI are just for poor people. The important things in Shelley’s life are her young daughters budding equestrian career and the general day to day troubles of being a housewife in Remuera.
Now as soon as that column came out the flabbergasted and outraged comments began to flood the herald page and Facebook. (The Herald ended up temporarily disabling commenting on the column.) And who could blame the general public? New Zealand suffers from terrible statistics on SUDI and an article such as this, in one of our national newspapers by no means assists the hard work that the health community has put into research as to how it can be prevented. But of course no, no, those statistics are only for poor families. Poo poo.
In any case, today Viv Gurrey, chief executive of Parent Centres New Zealand wrote (again for the New Zealand Herald) on why the message that Bridgeman puts forward is dangerous and what the actual facts about breast feeding and SUDI are.
I was quite pleased to read this, yet Shelley Bridgeman is still a New Zealand Herald contributor. I’m all for journalistic freedom and expression of free speech etc etc, but really why on earth is a newspaper, a supposedly credible source of national and international information being reduced to woman’s weekly standards. What assistance does it give to the population at large to be putting forward information which if taken seriously could pose serious threats to young children’s lives?
Today in a discussion on valid consent at uni a young man in my class put forward the view that it is up to the patient to ask questions to direct his health choices, but as I argued, a patient will believe the doctor to be the authority. Why would a doctor give anything less than the best? It is not up to the patient to winkle the information out of his/her doctor. The same goes for this situation, sure any reasonable person would know this story to be completely ridiculous, but what about those who read and think, huh, it worked for her without any idea of the years of scientific research that pits exactly against it. But it’s not like the Herald cares much about standards anyway.
My mother has compiled a collection of herald articles which feature bad grammar, punctuation, bizarrely placed page breaks and today the inclusion of the writers draft underneath the main article. Perhaps they need to sort out that semi fundamental aspect of writing before they begin to work on the faulty content……
In any case, here you go. A rant about a very silly rich woman and the terrible state of journalism in New Zealand.