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Media(ted) fabrications: How the science-media symbiosis helped ‘sell’ cord banking

This paper considers the problematic role of the science–media symbiosis in the dissemination of misleading and emotionally manipulative information regarding services offered by CordBank, New Zealand's only umbilical cord blood banking facility. As this case study illustrates, the growing reliance of health and science reporters on the knowledge capital of medical specialists, biogenetic researchers, and scientists potentially enhances the ability of ‘expert’ sources to set the agenda for media representations of emerging medical and scientific developments, and may undermine the editorial independence of journalists and editors, many of whom in this case failed to critically evaluate deeply problematic claims regarding the current and future benefits of cord banking. Heavy reliance on established media frames of anecdotal personalization and technoboosterism also reinforced a proscience journalistic culture in which claims by key sources were uncritically reiterated and amplified, with journalistic assessments of the value of cord banking emphasizing potential benefits for individual consumers. It is argued that use of these media frames potentially detracts from due consideration of the broader social, ethical, legal, and health implications of emerging biomedical developments, along with the professional, personal, and increasingly also financial interests at stake in their public promotion, given the growing commercialization of biogenetic technologies.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Michelle, C. (2006). Media(ted) fabrications: How the science-media symbiosis helped ‘sell’ cord banking. Communication & Medicine, 3(1), 55-68.
Mouton de Gruyter
This article is published in the journal: Communication and Medicine. Copyright Walter de Gruyter, used with permission.