Use Bloomberg and Disney News to Deepen Health Coverage

It’s been a fun couple of weeks for health news, with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg rationing soda portions and the Disney Co. calling a halt to junk food advertising for kids. You can do more with this story, though, than just trot out arguments for and against.

Bloomberg and Disney aim to block structural incentives to eat sugary, salty foods – and through their policy efforts, trim obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Their specific approaches certainly are open to debate. But public health departments across the country have been pleading for some type of policy-based, structural change. Their priority: Halt the disproportionate impact of dire health conditions on specific population groups.

Take a close look at the obesity statistics. African Americans and Mexican Americans have the highest rates across the country. And while we tend to associate obesity with low incomes, that’s not true here – at least for men. Nationally, African American and Mexican American men with higher incomes are more likely to be overweight than their lower-income counterparts. What’s going on?

To take the story one step further, consider that high weight puts people at risk for diabetes, a life-long chronic condition characterized by a roller-         coaster of blood sugar levels – and devastating complications –  if not kept under control. Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans have the highest risk for diabetes of all ethnic or racial groups, close to double that of non-Hispanic white people. The rate for non-Hispanic black people also is much higher than for whites – by three-quarters. Diabetes is rising dangerously among Native Americans, too.

Photo Courtesy: CDC

While all of us are at high risk for heart disease, both African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to die of strokes than non-Hispanic white people.How about using this moment to probe the value of Bloomberg’s and Disney’s approaches and their potential effectiveness as structural solutions to health disparities? And why not reach a little deeper to cover the populations most affected by these health conditions?

Big differences in lifelong health don’t trace back to genetics, education or even solely individual choice, according to the latest thinking in public health. Do efforts like Bloomberg’s or Disney’s help balance the equation?That’s a question worth investigating.

Sally Lehrman is a member of the SPJ Diversity Committee. She holds Santa Clara University’s Knight Ridder — San Jose Mercury News Endowed Chair in Journalism and the Public Interest. Sally is also an author and independent journalist who specializes in covering identity, race relations and gender within the context of medicine and science.


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  • Owen Good

    Maybe I can polish it this way. As I viewed them, the Kunkel Awards were meant to identify, praise and encourage good journalism in a rather immature sector of it. Eg. This story, which conforms to journalistic norms, is a better story than this one, which is full of purple, self-indulgent prose, even if it’s about a topic of greater societal interest or importance. To me, that would be a greater corrective effect. Your judges have had zero problem calling out the deficiencies _of those they honor_. Brad Glasgow was beaten up in his citation for burying the lede and burdening the story with a recap. Kotaku was called out for making submissions outside of the awards period.

    So, how about the judges turn that judgment on those who submitted work _for praise_ and tell them why _it is worthy of none, actually._ I believe that would have more of a corrective effect.

    And while I don’t doubt the judges’ professionalism or rectitude, I also don’t expect them to be following the ongoing belligerence between the liberal mainstream games media and their antagonists in GamerGate. That might inform why a 91-word post from Jezebel, which isn’t even a games publication but for sure is part of the media group GamerGate despises most, was submitted. One would figure its brevity might trip a flag that this isn’t a serious candidate for anything, even disparagement.

    We can have an honest argument about whether or not Jezebel, whose proclivity to manufacture outrage and whose tendentious sociopolitical observations are very well known, deserves to have “It Should Be No Woman’s Sky” treated as a serious argument in order to deny them an “it’s just satire” defense in wasting their readership’s time and attention. But that’s not the kind of argument or judgment I expect out of a series of awards meant to inspire and encourage better journalism.

  • Michael Koretzky

    The judges praised where they could, but when faced with flawed finalists, they were honest. However, I’m the one who decided to write the blog posts about those that didn’t win, then link to those that did. My successor may not agree. She can do it differently.

    Once again, I’ll say that the judges have done an excellent job avoiding the hyper-partisanship in the gaming scene. They can only judge what’s submitted, so if you think that’s a big problem, the solution is easy: Submit some good stuff next year, your own or someone else’s.

  • Andrew Whatever

    I think you know the answer here. “Awards” that arose as part of Gamergate nonsense trash a bunch of articles they perceive as the worst of feminism. Shocking. The sad part is that the SPJ is going along with this nonsense. One dude anyway.

  • Andrew Whatever

    Because it’s not too difficult to figure out, especially as someone who actually reads their real articles sometimes. But if you’re just a mad anti-feminist Gamergate type sure, it’s tough to figure out. Or maybe still obvious but some willful ignorance helps push the agenda.

  • Andrew Whatever

    Oddly enough the partisan vision you want is so predictable I can even guess which side you’re on!

  • Andrew Whatever

    Can you point me to the list of professional journalists doing the judging? Agenda seems pretty clear here, curious about the diversity of judges.

  • Michael Koretzky

    If you google me and decide I’m a “mad anti-feminist Gamergate type,” I guess I can’t argue with you. But if you haven’t, I won’t argue with you.

  • Michael Koretzky

    We revealed one judge here…

    …and one is the new director of these awards…

    …while the third is a business editor and avid gamer who met his wife in a Zelda forum.

  • Andrew Whatever

    “He sourced it with mods from a pro-GamerGate subreddit, although to be clear, he didn’t take sides in the GamerGate controversy.” AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. Ok I get it now. And the third judge is some mystery judge I guess, not difficult to guess why. Do you guys have any plans to really legitimize this thing beyond Gamergate nonsense? Is that even possible at this point?

  • Andrew Whatever

    I’m referring to the people who submit these kind of articles to a video game journalism award. You spent a lot of time talking to Gamergaters, surely you picked up some idea of how they operate by this point. Tip: You’re going to have a lot of trouble getting anyone to take these awards seriously if you can’t extract yourself from their nonsense, and giving them a platform to continue to trash feminists they perceive are ruining gaming isn’t going to help. Constructive criticism: Jezebel isn’t really related to game journalism anyway, the fact that they’re here at all shows a huge lacking in how you are running this. Perhaps it will change for the better with the new management though.

  • Andrew Whatever

    EXACTLY. That Jezebel thing wouldn’t even be seriously considered if it wasn’t part of this ongoing Gamergate nonsense. These awards will never be taken seriously if they can’t extract themselves from Gamergate nonsense. I don’t even know how that would be possible without completely revamping both the nomination and judging processes, instead of blindly defending the status quo aka awards that rose in the midst of Gamergate nonsense that are heavily influenced by Gamergaters.

  • Michael Koretzky

    I have no more details to offer. So if you’ve read about our process and our updates and still feel we’re not legitimate, I suppose the Kunkels aren’t for you.

  • amyshulk

    I always did learn the most from others’ mistakes


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