Since 1945 fluoride has been added to water in order to improve the public’s dental health. The topic has often been surrounded by ethics issues. In early 2013, a Harvard study identified that populations with fluoridated water have children with lower IQs and other health issues, including heightened chances of dementia.
The news hype around these revelations can be defended considering news as a ‘voice for the voiceless’ (Ward, 2009) but when does scientific observation, become controversy and not a waste of this medium for a voice. There are years of research that argue for and against the fluoridation of water, one more bit of evidence, shouldn’t make headlines.
The media attention around the topic of the adverse effects of fluoridation of water can be seen as fear-mongering. Fear mongering by the media is a way for the company running the story to create ‘hype’ around a trivial issue to keep the story in the public sphere so they can continue to run the story. While this is not illegal, it has various ethical implications, especially when the story appears much more important than it really is, over shadowing other important stories.
Dreher identifies that news is valued more for its cultural proximity, relevance, rarity, continuity, elite references, negativity, composition, and personalisation (2013). It can be said that fluoridation of water has received its unjustified media attention because of these elements. Because of this, Dreher implies that news such as water fluoridation is given more media value than equally as important foreign news stories.
It is important that as media consumers we are aware of global news regardless of it’s proximity and relevance to ourselves. I suggest finding and using regular news networks that, have a global network, are preferably independent and use multiple mediums.