Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Shoddy "journalism" - breastfeeding on Ten Breakfast Show

It is the time of TV I avoid because it does my head in, but I wanted to see the interview with Dr Jack Newman, so I tuned in online to watch it. Having the pleasure of dinner with Jack on Sunday night and spending the day with him as one of the speakers out the ABA Breastfeeding: working it out seminar we ran on Monday, I found him to be intelligent, understanding worthy of the label of world-renowned expert on breastfeeding, whose help is sort not only by mothers in person but also in their thousands online. After 20 + years of media watching, I expected the usual debate that the media considers anything related to breastfeeding is up for, but even I didn't expect this:  Ten Breakfast March 7th 2012

The "interview" was conducted by an emotional presenter whose unresolved issues related to her own unsuccessful breastfeeding experience were allowed free-reign by the producers and instead of intelligent conversation, Jack found himself struggling to get a word in whilst she struggled to hold back tears. Her two male co-hosts - one a doctor - seemed uncomfortable.  This came across as the most unprofessional example of "journalism" I have seen in a while and contained gems such as Jack not being an expert in breastfeeding, as he is male! She boasted of the very best in private hospital, lactation consultants and doctors in her quest to breastfeed twins which went on for 7.5 weeks but brushed off the point Jack tried to make about access to the RIGHT help and how women do not fail to breastfeed but society fails to help them EFFECTIVELY to do so. The whole purpose was not an attack on women who bottle feed after insurmountable problems - in fact, they are the very women he was there to say deserved more form the health system. Once again, a media outlet sought to inflame anger and pit mother against mother, with the label "Bottle or Breast" attached to the interview and used to prompt discussion on their Facebook Wall.

All this only a week after a misinformed blog post by Mia Freedman, which began well but descended to the old "mothers bullied to breastfeed" scenario. Freedman incorrectly reported on the organisation behind the Baby-Friendly Health Initiative , declaring it to be part of the Australian Breastfeeding Association Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace program and therefore, assigning "blame" for mothers limited access to formula in hospital to ABA, sparking attacks on ABA and its volunteer Breastfeeding Counsellors (like myself) that left many of my friends and colleagues shocked and disturbed. The flaming on Facebook, Mia's blog and later - after stepping in as Patron of BFHI - that of Tara Moss, was so nasty that I and others found it hard to sleep after reading them.

I want the media to STOP pitting mother against mother and START using their power to DEMAND support for mothers to do what they intended - breastfeed their babies. No debate. No guilt.

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