Mumps article intrusive and unfair

by Beacon Staff • October 3, 2007

I am compelled to respond to the "news" article "Freshman diagnosed with mumps" (9/27) in The Beacon. The headline is false and misleading and several areas of content can best be characterized as inaccurate. The reporter made a decision to put a "sensational spin" to a story that essentially had been resolved by press time and created her own definition of "diagnosis" despite information provided to the contrary.,Dear Editor,

I am compelled to respond to the "news" article "Freshman diagnosed with mumps" (9/27) in The Beacon. The headline is false and misleading and several areas of content can best be characterized as inaccurate. The reporter made a decision to put a "sensational spin" to a story that essentially had been resolved by press time and created her own definition of "diagnosis" despite information provided to the contrary. This can hardly be regarded as responsible journalism.

There was not a case of mumps on campus. The results of laboratory testing and interpretation by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health were privately conveyed to the student on Tuesday morning (9/25) and announced shortly after to the Emerson community via Email. The reporter had the published information and additional clarifying statements from me well in advance of press time deadlines.

The CHW would never share private health/medical information about a student with anyone. The fact that the reporter came to learn the identity of the student "suspected" of having mumps and persisted with questioning the student until she got some response is in itself alarming!

Medical information to a layperson can be difficult to understand, however, when clear factual information is ignored or taken out of context it becomes a source of unnecessary alarm and panic. Reporters need to be familiar with the language they use and accurately quote to credible sources when they have doubts.

-Jane Powers

Director

Center for Health Wellness