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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19938

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: news

Bisset K, Parnell K
Ad comments off target
Australian Medicine 1999 Sep 6


Full text:

We thought your article ‘Are medical publications selling out?’ (AM, 19 July) raised some interesting and important issues. However, we take great expectation to comments made by the editor of the MJA, Dr Martin Van Der Weyden, in relation to the editorial independence of medical tabloids.

Dr Van Der Weyden says ‘there are laws for the geese and laws for the ganders’ in reference to what he perceives as a lower standard of editorial independence employed by medical tabloids. He says the MJA has guidelines on advertising policy, that medical tabloids are under no obligation to subscribe to such guidelines and are not subject to peer review.

We find it incongruous that Dr Van Der Weyden feels able to comment on the editorial standards of medical tabloids when the MJA admits in your article it was forced into ‘impunity’ some years ago by allowing advertisements to be placed next to related editorial. Australian Doctor has never employed such a policy and successive editors have fought to maintain the editorial independence of our publication at all costs. Australian Doctor does have a policy on advertising, which is made very clear to all employees as a fundamental tenet of ethical journalism: in no circumstances shall advertising influence the editorial policy of our newspaper.

Given that Dr Van Der Weyden has never worked at Australian Doctor and, to our knowledge, has never verified our editorial policy, we find it curious that he would make such a statement.

No, Australian Doctor is not under any obligation to subscribe to ethical guidelines on editorial independence but we value our readers enough to know they read Australian Doctor because of editorial is independent of all interest groups, including advertisers.

His point about peer review is irrelevant, Australian Doctor is a medical newspaper, not a journal.
We don’t publish peer reviewed research, we report on research published in reputable journals.

Kellie Bisset, Editor
Dr Kerri Parnell,
Medical Editor
Australian Doctor

 

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There is no sin in being wrong. The sin is in our unwillingness to examine our own beliefs, and in believing that our authorities cannot be wrong. Far from creating cynics, such a story is likely to foster a healthy and creative skepticism, which is something quite different from cynicism.”
- Neil Postman in The End of Education