Tilapia Story Tainted By Journalistic Mistakes

The Winston Salem Journals Executive Editor responded to our letter this afternoon and had quite a bit to say about his papers reporting (you can read the whole email below.) But what I found most interesting was that he wrote:

I agree that the story should have mentioned the critical editorial that appeared in the same edition of the magazine

That means the paper did not sufficiently present the other side of this story. And whats the other side of the story? The research is questionable at best andreckless at worst.

I have written back to the executive editor and asked once again if they intend to publicly address the paper’s failings. More to come on this one.

Winston Salem Journals letter to NFI:

Mr. Gibbons,

I’ve discussed your letter with Mr. Craver and his editor and reviewed his reporting on the story. In my view, Mr. Craver went to considerable lengths to seek balance in the story, including obtaining comments from the N.C. Fisheries Association, whose president, Sean McKeon, is quoted extensively in the story. Mr. Craver also contacted or attempted to contact eight other groups or individuals for comment on the study, in most cases sending the source the press release announcing the findings. Several of those sourcescould not be contactedor, due to spaceconstraints, did not make it intothe story.And while I agree that the story should have mentioned the critical editorial that appeared in thesame edition of the magazine,I don’t think that omission materially affects the validity of the story.

Wake Forest University School ofMedicine has a good reputation for vetting its research.I would also note that Dr. Chilton did not suggest that people not eat fish; in fact he recommends they do. Hisstudy wasspecific as to one type of farm-fed fish and its possible harmful effects in people with certain medical conditions.

As to Dr. Chilton’s supposed conflict as the author of a book on inflammation, I consider that argumentative andnot relevant. Almost all academic scholars and scientists write books in their area of expertise.

I don’t want todismiss the concerns of your organization. If we should find an opportunity to report on this study again, we will strive to detail the debate about the health effects of Omega-6 fatty acids more exhaustively. Thanks for sharing your concerns with us.


Carl Crothers