Monday, February 23, 2009

Newspaper coverage over the weekend

OVER the weekend I got two mentions in the papers, one which made me go ‘woo hoo’ and the other which made me go ‘wha…’

First Shane Hegarty in the Irish Times included this blog in the article ‘Blogs, what to read and why’ in Saturday’s paper, so thanks very much for that, I and my Mammy are delighted, and if you are here via that article, thanks for stopping by.

The second one was strange to say the least and was in the Sunday Tribune.

I first knew about the impending article on Friday when I got a message to contact the reporter, so I did and when he called me back we talked for about three minutes at most.

It seems an anti-vaccine (I won’t say anti HPV vaccine as their anti-ness is more encompassing than that) campaigner got onto the paper and complained that her comments were removed from the Facebook group I established in November (nearly 13, 500 members now).

In the article the Facebook group was called an ‘online petition’ which in actual fact it is not. I think actually a misunderstanding of the Facebook group as well as netiquette is in play here, which I shall explain as we go along.

For those of you who have followed this, it won’t come as a surprise that I knew exactly who would have been in contact with the paper, after all she had already phoned me to work, where she yelled insults and accusations at me, including how I must have ‘shares in the company’, I have ‘blood on my hands’ and how I am ‘killing children’.

So on Friday I talked to the journalist, for all of three minutes about this and he asked twice should she was not be allowed to raise alleged health concerns in the group. I tried to explain that wasn’t the issue and I’ll explain why in this post later.

The article itself copied a comment I made in the group where I told the poster that they might set up their own Facebook group, a comment we (myself and other admins) made repeatedly to her when asking her to stop bombarding the group.

The campaign group is for people to campaign on the issue. Seeing as how when she first commented she had no friends, it could be a safe bet that she joined Facebook to join the group given the coverage the group received in the media.

It is also worth noting that, as I will explain later, this all happened WELL before Christmas, and other comments not agreeing with the campaign are still on the discussion board, it was the conduct of that person within the group that has us remove their comments. That fact was not included in the story, I suppose it just doesn't fit in with the tone of the piece.

I should also add that I laughed at the headline of the article which read ‘Row erupts over safety of cancer vaccine’.

Oh really, I thought, surely at the very least it is downright rude to have a row with someone and not let them know, unless of course there has been absolutely no row. The Tribune reads that there are two of us in this Facebook comments row, but only one of us is arguing with themselves in an empty room.

I wonder as well if the Tribune realise her comments were removed about two to three months ago, does that make it news?

I wonder also if they understand trolling (I did explain that this is what was happening), which this person was doing, or indeed spam, which they were also doing. I had complaints from group members about this, she was told over and over again to stop and she didn’t so we deleted her comments. End of. It happens all the time in fora such as this when people troll, spam or go off topic.

The Tribune should also be aware in its non-story that this woman is still a member of the group. It just seemed to be more concerned with linking this to my work in the Labour Party. Now I have said time and time again, that I started this campaign off my own initiative, it was not and is not related to work. At a very basic level there are members from all political groups/backgrounds and it was vitally important that anyone who felt strongly that not bringing in this vaccine was a bad decision did not feel unable to join in because of party politics– that too is prominent within the group information and has been from the beginning.

The final straw for me in regard to the behaviour of this person was when they phoned my work to complain about me, she was crossing the lines between the Facebook group and reality. To see this in a ‘newstory’ now is frankly laughable.

But how and ever I would like to thank the individuals for once again highlighting the group particularly seeing as how the article was placed next to an article about Jade Goody, who is facing the last weeks of her young life. Kinda puts it in perspective, don’t you think?

[On a related note the group's membership keeps growing and growing, currently we have nearly 13,400 members, well done everyone. Please join, we need you, and we will be organising more action soon.]


Cian said...

at the risk of giving it more legs than it deserves. A non story given credence where it wasnt deserved.

The group is not a debating forum but an orgainsing tool for people who are committed to introduction of the vaccine. To boot it was done by yourself in a personal capacity which means that taking it to your employer was out of bounds. Great response tho - balanced and fair. More than the attack merited.

Keep at it.

jean said...

Very good response RedMum, very fair and balanced. The anti-vaccine crowd are notorious for their lack of logic and shrill personal attacks. It's quite silly of the Tribune to try to turn this everyday occurence (troll gets banned, big deal!) into a controversy.

java said...

I'm really not a fan of lazy journalism and thats all the Tribune article is. Even the title is misleading. Good response RedMum.

click here said...

Perhaps I'm naive; perhaps I'm woefully out of the loop.. But there are people out there who are opposed to the vaccine?

I'm sure I can guess at the types involved, but still.. The mind boggles..

Annie said...

I didn't know there were people opposed to the vaccine either. For why?! (As we say in Wales).

I have joined your group.

Sharon said...

Hi Red Mum, I've had some run-ins with the ant-vaccine lot in the autism world. They are impossible to reason with as they take a pure faith based position. That Tribune article is awful and typical of the lazy journalism that all too often surrounds these issues, creating controversy where none should exist in a ridiculous parody of giving both sides equal coverage. Do they give flat earthers 50-50 coverage too?

rabble-muse said...

That woman is a fundamentalist or maybe just mentalist.


Karen said...

Once again I think this woman is missing the point about the HPV Vaccine and indeed any vaccine. It's about choice. Just because the Irish Government introduces the HPV vaccine does NOT mean every single teenage girl will be held down and injected with it. It is OFFERED as a CHOICE to parents who then decide whether their child receives it or not. The State does not supercede the autonomy of a parent to make decisions about their child's health, let's be very clear and unambiguous on this, the parent has the ultimate yay or nay. The same goes for a lot of other things to do with children - for example sex education in schools, AIDs talks etc, the parent opts whether or not to let their child attend classes, nobody can force a parent to do them, neither can a parent be forced to give their child the HPV vaccine.

I think and correct me if I'm wrong, but the original point of the Facebook campaign was to reinstate the funding for this vaccine so that parents would have the CHOICE to have it administered to their daughters. As it stands now, nobody, whether you agree with vaccines or not, has the choice to have this vaccine on the public system, the funding isn't there.

Perhaps there are health concerns about it, that's fine and absolutely these concerns should be highlighted if they are proven as scientific fact that they have x, y or z side-affects or are not suitable if you have a preexisting condition or whatever - however simply banning all vaccines is not the answer.

Is this woman a doctor? Has she completed a full-on medically recognised study of this vaccine that shows the cons outweigh the pros? Can she point to any similar studies? If there ARE studies such as these, I would certainly be interested in reading them as I'm sure any parent or parent-to-be would be, so then they could make an informed choice. Again, it comes back to choice - this woman very obviously wants to see all vaccines banned, that's her opinion. It's not mine and in a democratic society, surely the choice should be there? This woman would not give her daughters the HPV vaccine. I would. Two different opinions, neither the right answer or the wrong answer but at the very least there should be a choice.

I also find this woman's method of getting her point across as reprehensible. Ok fine, she was frustrated her comments were removed from the Facebook page, there are ways of dealing with that, such as mailing the adminstrators or even setting up your own Facebook page outlining your views. What you DON'T do is call somebody at their work and accuse them of killing children, you just don't do it, not only does it make you sound like an absolute loon, it's also strictly unprofessional and rude.

I also think it's petty and damn shortsighted of the Sunday Tribune to bleat about freedom of speech when the very basis of this woman's anti-vaccine campaign is to restrict freedom of choice.

Fair play Red Mum on the campaign and your handling of this.

aphrodite said...

Read the article and will say that the woman comes across as totally shrill and unbalanced. Irrational people like this who force their views on others were the reason we didn't have divorce in this country for so long.

Its her choice not to get the vaccine if it becomes available (which it hopefully will). I can't believe the Tribune published such tabloid rubbish - a non story if I ever saw one.

And that's it. Freedom of choice. Full stop. And that's what you are campaigning for.

Red Mum said...

Thanks everyone :) I really appreciate the support and comments.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm not anti or pro the vaccine. I haven't quite made up my mind yet. However, I've looked into both sides, and there are some interesting things regarding the vaccines and their side effects. Especially Gardasil. Here are some links. There are some serious side effects, but they occur in a monority of people. I guess the main problem is that this minority are still very young girls and for those individuals, it is very important, and not just unlucky.
It's awful when crazy people take over a cause, and then ruin the argument for themselves by just going nuts, instead of being able to talk logically. Anyway here's some links for people like Karen who are interested and then they can make up their own mind. They're mainly likns and info about the U.S. fda reports:

32 deaths out of 23 million for people who got the vaccine. In Ireland 85 people die of cervical cancer a year. But HPV is not the only cause of cervical cancer. Hard to know really.

Caroline Carter said...

Would parents be inclined to allow their children to have the HPV vaccine if they were fully informed on the dangers and the known fact that HPV does not cause cervical cancer?