SHIFT Communications experts discuss all things healthcare and media.

Pizza Sauce is a Vegetable – and Why We Need Journalism

By Amanda Guisbond @agbond

I attended a Publicity Club of New England event this week on “Taking Your Social Media Program to the Next Level.”  While much of the discussion focused on social media campaigns, tools, measurement and predictions for 2012 – photo sharing, social commerce – the conversation also, naturally, turned to media and the modern reporter.

George Snell (@hightalk) stated (and has previously written on the topic) that we need more journalism, and less reporting.  In other words, the more major newspapers turn to reporting just the facts, and not providing better insight, the more news becomes a commodity and not a service.

I couldn’t agree more.  If it weren’t for journalism, we wouldn’t have this AP story on pizza sauceU.S. lawmakers are moving to count pizza sauce as a “vegetable” in school lunches.  A report on the facts might neglect to highlight the underlying problem here – obesity – and the agenda for pushing this legislation through – aiding pizza companies that make profit off school lunch programs.

Thankfully, the AP did its homework and not only reported on the facts but also highlighted the real health risk our government is taking in protecting big companies.  If you’re a parent and have kids in grade school, you might be just moved enough to start packing everyone’s lunches, or writing to your PTA.

When I was in grade school, once a week I was allowed to eat from the school cafeteria – and boy did I pig out.  I would have two slices of Domino’s cheese pizza and a ‘cookiewich’ – ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies.  If it wasn’t for those brown bag lunches I brought most days, filled with healthy sandwiches and bags of carrots, and my love of soccer, I’d probably have a weight problem long past my “baby fat” years.

But, what about the other kids?  I physically cringe thinking of how much soda my peers consumed back in the day – why do they serve soda at all in schools?

Oh yeah – it’s because of money, companies and legislation that insists “pizza sauce is a vegetable.”  And if not for honest journalism, whereby an experienced writer takes the facts, verifies them, analyzes them, and provides commentary, this story might have been swept under the rug.  We need real journalism in order to be better informed, healthier individuals and decision-makers.

Do you agree?  Do you think journalism can help us stay smart about our health and make better decisions, or is “reporting the facts” enough?  Please pile on in the comments!

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