This week the San Antonio Express-News published a balanced and thoughtful piece by reporter Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, under the provocative title Does ‘shaken-baby’ syndrome exist? The article examines the case of infant-care provider Aritzaid Santiago, who remains in prison.
When I emailed my praise to Ms. Stoeltje, she replied with thanks for my words of support, adding, “I am being otherwise excoriated.”
After joining the on-line conversation about the article, I’ve gotten a glimpse of what she’s talking about.
The Express-News ranks its on-line comments by their popularity with readers, who can push little thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons on each posting. The three top vote-getters are displayed with the story, the others on a jump page. I just took this unsettling screen shot:
I take comfort that my own comment has received four thumbs-ups and only one thumbs-down, for a total popularity of 3—still behind, alas, “She should face the death penalty and nothing less,” which was at 5 until it occurred to me I could give it a thumbs-down, so now it’s at 4.
All of which reminds me of a recent quote from radiologist David M. Ayoub, MD, who received a chilly response to his presentation “Congenital Rickets Misdiagnosed as Child Abuse” at last month’s Pediatric Abusive Head Trauma conference in San Francisco. When a member of the audience asked whether it bothered him that most people think he’s wrong, he answered, “The truth is not a popularity contest.”
But public relations is. If you have the time, and are willing to create an account with a random media outlet, please consider joining the conversation that accompanies the San Antonio article, which you can get to by clicking here.
September 2011 update:
Thanks to those of you who took action. The tone of the comments page changed dramatically over the few days after I posted this entry. For details see “Texas Update” at the end of a different the post, An Evolving Theory, A Tragic Tale.