Bringing “Lyme and Reason” to News Coverage of Tick-Borne Illness Fox5NY breaks new ground in covering Lyme disease

By Dorothy Kupcha Leland

P ity the poor news reporter assigned to do a story about Lyme disease. The topic is fraught with controversy. On the one hand, there are thousands of people saying they are profoundly suffering from the tick-borne illness, and they can’t get help from their doctors, public health officials, or insurance companies. On the other hand, a prominent medical society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both largely deny that Lyme disease is much of a problem—and tend to take a dim view of those who say otherwise.

Even journalists who educate themselves about the many sides of the issue still face a daunting challenge–how best to communicate this complex narrative to the public.

Added to the mix are scientific turf battles, contradictory medical guidelines, financial conflicts of interest, and widely differing patient experiences. It’s a difficult story for journalists to wade through, and frankly, many of them take the easy way out. They either don’t report on it at all, or they defer to the views set forth by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the CDC.

In terms of public relations firepower, this is definitely a David vs. Goliath contest. Unfortunately for patients, many news organizations pay little heed to David—and lavish most of their attention on Goliath. After all, the CDC is the government agency entrusted with protecting public health. Why would a reporter doubt its word on the subject?

That’s why two special reports called “Lyme and Reason” produced by Fox5 New York, are in a category by themselves. Yes, other TV stations have at times done a good job of covering the spectrum of information and opinions regarding Lyme disease…… Join or login below to continue reading.

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