While I personally only watch these shows for a laugh, jokingly referring to them as “news”, the reality is that they each draw a more than significant share of Australia’s viewing public.
The bottom line for me then is that they will continue to exist, being viewed by millions of people, whether they run the occasional story we agree with, collaborate on, and or get a mention in, or not.
For me what is comes down to is getting our message of consumer advocacy, an often over looked and/or under recognized part of skeptical activism, to a wider audience. Potentially the very audience that is most likely to benefit from such stories.
This will never stop me personally from criticizing such shows when I deem it necessary, as many can attest I do ad nauseum, let alone encouraging others to do so. Not coincidently my favorite Australian television show has for years been Media Watch (which is itself not immune to criticism, no sacred cows and all that).
Advocacy groups and their reps including but not limited to CHOICE’s Christopher Zinn, take advantage of the outreach opportunity such shows provide, and I have to agree that the potential for positive outcomes through utilising such mediums outweighs the discomfort.
Unfortunately as viewers of the programs will readily attest, the opportunity for free publicity and promotion combined with often credulous reporting can and often does result in the promotion of products and claims that are unproven, disproven and/or are ineffective at best. To me this is all the more reason to be vigilant, to maximize any opportunity to educate and inform both journalists and the public of evidentiary standards, scientific testing as well as to try and combat the negative stereotypes that skeptics often face.
“Do you have a service or product to sell and need to get the word out, but only have a miniscule advertising budget?
You may think that your options are limited to taking out a small display ad in the local community newspaper.
That may be so, but, what if there was another way; a way for you to reach a national prime time television audience with your product or service?
Sounds farfetched doesn’t it? But there is such a way. It’s called A Current Affair and it’s in Channel 9 every weeknight.”
Jayson D Cooke
The Sceptics’ Book of Pooh Pooh: