Is it a journal? Is it a lifestyle mag? Does it matter?
What Doctors Don’t Tell You sets itself a high target. “We provide difficult-to-obtain information about what works and what doesn’t work in conventional and alternative health care so that our readers can make their own informed decisions.” said editor Lynne McTaggart in a recent Facebook post. The editorial in the first glossy edition said:
Every month, we will present to you the stories that rarely make it into the general press or even the Internet, the information your doctor never shares with you about the treatments on offer, the truth about better and safer alternatives. We will be your lone and very noisy voice in that conspiracy of silence.
Well, this is all well and good and laudable, but there are some potential problems here. First, obviously, is whether the information given is accurately and fairly presented. That’s a subject for many, many subsequent posts. What I want to tackle here first is how WDDTY presents itself, how readers are likely to perceive it, and what impact this has on the advice contained within.
Pretending to be a journal, acting like a tabloid
Editor Lynne McTaggart describes WDDTY as being a journal.
They set great store by their team of researchers, and the care with which they approach articles (we’ll look at their research in more detail later).
And yet they print sensationalist cover and article headlines:
Which they then treat with the disrespect one might expect from a tabloid. When challenged:
This is not good enough. If WDDTY aspires to be a scientific journal and expects to be treated as such, it must act like one. It can’t use sensationalist banners which do not resemble the articles they headline. It must use a properly rigorous approach to its research material, and be fair, accurate and measured in its reporting. There is a reason why reputable journals don’t trumpet big attention-grabbing headlines about new or unconfirmed research – that research could well be wrong, and people can get hurt as a result. If its editors want it to be a journal, they need to accept the responsibilities that come with being a journal.
If they don’t, it’s just a tabloid rag in a posh frock.