The Daily Mail Comments Section: A Study of one commenter – Jim

The Daily Mail is the most-read newspaper and news website in the United Kingdom. Paul Dacre’s newspaper has a remarkable power as kingmaker in British politics, and an extraordinary ability of influencing its readership.

The comments section gives an idea of the readership of the website, with both comments and like:dislike ratios hinting at what the current climate is.

A single user, Jim, has the following comments, all of which are popular amongst the DM readership:

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[MUST READ] Coca-Cola’s secret influence on medical and science journalists

Please read this article from the British Medical Journal: http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1638

 

This is a very important argument, and it is essential for healthcare professionals, journalists and politicians alike to make a concerted and aggressive effort to kick these sugar-peddling companies out of the sphere of academic influence.

The more overt “More Doctors smoke…” advertisements of yesteryear are thankfully a thing of the past, but the covert influence of sugar-saturated food companies is no less a threat to our health. Aaron and Siegel (1) report that from 2011 to 2015, the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo were found to sponsor 95 national health organizations, many medical and public health institutions amongst them. They also lobbied against 29 public health bills intended to reduce soda consumption or improve nutrition.

The British Nutrition Foundation, for example, lists amongst “Sustaining Members” Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kellogg, Nestle, Tate & Lyle and has “Corporate Members” British Sugar plc, Mars UK, KP Snacks, McDonalds, United Biscuits, Weetabix, Ocean Spray and many more. Although it is open to companies and corporations from a variety of backgrounds including healthcare and fitness, the actual members who have provided support read as a Who’s Who of Sugar Salesmen (2), making their promise of a “a focus on objective nutrition science interpretation and delivery” open to scrutiny. The American Society for Nutrition is no different, with an almost-identical list of names cropping up (3) for this group, which publishes the Journal of Nutrition.

Indeed, the editorial boards of top nutrition journals are littered by corporate affiliations with sweetie companies – The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, for example, lists the likes of Mars, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, McDonald’s  and Ferrero amongst companies who have a relationship with members of their board (4). The ambassador’s reception may also be overflowing with hazelnut-and-wafer spherical treats at many other nutrition journals, who often  home of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, who have eight “corporate patron friends” and four “corporate sustaining friends.  (5)

It would be interesting to note how these journals consider submissions which report a detriment to health from these companies’ products, but when some of the largest nutrition journals display such a conflict of interest it must become clear to all that the Honey Pot relationship between “Big Food” and academia is poisonous and needs to be dealt with.

References:

(1) Sponsorship of National Health Organizations by Two Major Soda Companies. Aaron, Daniel G. et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine , Volume 52 , Issue 1 , 20 – 30

(2) “Member Organisations – British Nutrition Foundation”. Nutrition.org.uk. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

(3) “American Society For Nutrition – Our Sustaining Partners”. Nutrition.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

(4) AJCN Editor Conflict of Interest Statement. (2017). Ajcn.nutrition.org. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/site/misc/EditorCOI.xhtml Web, 10 April. 2017.

(5) Nestle, Marion. Food Politics. 1st ed. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2013. P112. Print.

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No longer taking the piss: When tabloid journalism goes from foolish to dangerous.

On 24 April 2017, the Daily Mail published an article with the title statement “Going to the loo ‘just in case’? Don’t – it could wreck your bladder”. With a daily print circulation of 1.5 million (December 2016) and 100 million unique online visitors per month, the newspaper dispenses alarming and dangerous advice which may encourage people to hold in their urine, thereby risking urinary tract infections and renal impairment.

The article itself, apart from a number of lurid stock photos, is less sensationalist in tone than the headline.  However, the focus is so scattershot (bouncing from the volume of urine that a bladder can hold, to a brief differential diagnosis of polyuria, the use of earplugs, men exercising their pelvic floor, and even David Cameron’s Brexit negotiations) that the only “take home message” risks being the first line for the newspaper’s readers. With an average reader age of 58, many of the Daily Mail’s readers will suffer from nocturia and take such advice to heart.

Dismissing tabloid medical journalism as beneath scrutiny is done at our peril, as many patients rely on newspapers to build their knowledge base and engagement can be significantly affected by what is understood to be true. When this message is dangerously incorrect, it should be confronted and disputed.

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Welcome to Wangland

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/27/eu-nurses-britain-brexit-poisoning-nhs

WELCOME TO WANGLAND:

We don’t need the European Union, the National Health Service, or any other outdated monolithic organisation.

You see, Britain is special, and will ALWAYS remain so. It’s what makes us expats when we move overseas, whereas people who come here are foreigners. The respect that we have means that we will always be lucrative trading partners for Australia, New Zealand, Canada and all our former colonies. If Scotland and Northern Ireland don’t like it, then to hell with them. The union of England and Wales (Wangland) can form strong alliances with our friends overseas and we will once again rule the waves.

Excelsior!

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Have a happy Purim, just don’t believe Bibi’s bunkum

Happy Purim to all the Jewish people around the world, celebrating the day that Queen Esther saved the Jewish people by alerting King Xerxes to the Grand Vizier Haman’s evil plot.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referenced this whilst speaking to schoolchildren earlier this week:

“In Persia, they wanted to kill us but it didn’t work,” Netanyahu said. “Today, too, Persians are trying to destroy us, but today, too, it will not work.”

Bibi has spent much of the last week selling the lie that Iran’s ruler wanted to kill the Jews. Wrong!  Haman was NOT the ruler. He was the vizier. He was an adviser.  He was this guy:

 

Netanyahu’s rationale for amending history is logical: A persistent simmering frisson between Iran’s theocratic regime, which does not recognise Israel, and the hawkish Israeli prime minister consolidates the power of both parties.  However, in making this statement, Netanyahu is crushing an important shared Jewish and Persian lore which has been mentioned in numerous historical manuscripts and holy books (The Torah, Bible and Quran).

Chief amongst this is Xerxes’ grandfather Cyrus The Great who liberated the Jewish people enslaved in Babylon, and announced an edict for the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem.

 

This Persian ruler therefore ushered in a new epoch in the history of the Jewish people, culminating in the temple itself being completed during the reign of Darius II four generations later.

 

The Cyrus Cylinder, kept at the British Museum, describes how Cyrus allowed captives in Babylon to return to their native territories, which earned him an honoured place in the Jewish faith.

 

How about Xerxes, who was the grandson of Cyrus and the ruler during the events which are now celebrated in Purim? Does marrying a Jewish maiden, listening to her describe Haman’s plans and condemning the vizier to hang for his tricks mean that this was a ruler who wanted to “annihilate the Jews”. How about issuing a decree which authorized all Jews to defend themselves, and appointing Mordechai the first Jewish prime minister of the Persian Empire? These historical facts were, conveniently, rather missing from Netanyahu’s comments.

This contempt towards history is an insult to both Persian and Jewish History, two ancient cultures who have been intertwined for millenia despite the current challenges. This should be a time for celebrating cultures, and the deep bond which was cemented between Persia and the Jews following those events. Bonds which have persisted for many centuries, and still exist to this day, despite the rhetoric from Iran’s leaders, and perhaps the hawkish elements in Israel.

 

Abdol Hossein Sardari, known as the “Schindler of Iran” is an example.  A diplomat who saved thousands of Iranian jews from deportation by the Nazi regime, he then began issuing hundreds of Iranian passports for non-Iranian jews to save them from persecution, dying in poverty two years after the Iranian Revolution in 1981. His actions do not fit into Netanyahu’s narrative either, but he exemplifies the courage and the principles of human rights that Cyrus the Great pronounced 25 centuries earlier.

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