Wednesday, August 03, 2005

BBC interviews cardiologist but fail to ask him about cardiology

BBC News needs to adopt more of an interviewing format, like Newsnight or the Jeremy Vine show, where lots of voices get heard. The problem with the current BBC news bulletin format when it comes to controversial ethical issues, like embryonic stem cell research and human cloning, is that it gives too much weight to the reporter's own perspective while the people who are interviewed, have barely time to complete a sentence before the camera is whisked away.

A prime example of this was the BBC News report on the Korean cloning breakthrough in May. After presenting footage from Korea and Newcastle, while the news correspondent looked very happy, the news report devoted barely a minute to interview a cardiologist who opposes embryonic stem cell research and cloning. The cardiologist was broadcast saying: "In doing these experiments we have to understand first of all safety and secondly the implications both ethically and culturally and many patients may have difficulties with this sort of treatment".

It is impossible that during the longer pre-recorded interview, this professor of cardiology did not argue that messing around with embryonic stem cells and cloning (never mind the ethical issues) is a waste of time given the very promising developments using bone marrow stem cells to treat heart damage, which is being trialled in London.

It remains a mystery why this vital information was withheld from the public, but there was time for the news correspondent to approve wholeheartedly of cloning by concluding "The moral arguments will continue, but the hope is that one day this could revolutionise medicine", even though in the Korean scientists own report they said that these cloned cells will never be able to be used in treatment because they were cloned from patients and will therefore have the same condition.

see Heart Treatments: Adult stem cells v. Embryonic stem cells

BBC bone marrow Stem cells treat heart attacks (8th July 2004)


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