The Sunday Times of Malta editor Mark Wood has admitted making a mistake in publishing a controversial article which promoted an anti-vaccination narrative.
The article discussed an anti-vaccine film which has been widely discredited as a propaganda piece based on a controversial 1998 study suggesting that vaccines cause autism.
“I recognise it was a mistake to publish the article,” Wood told Lovin Malta, about the controversial piece which has since been removed from the newspaper’s website.
“I allowed it to be published in the spirit of inquiry and of presenting an alternative viewpoint,” Wood continued. “However, given the weight of scientific evidence of the vaccine, I now realise it would have been prudent to stop publication of the piece in order to prevent any possibility of harm.”
He said the author, Kathryn Borg, had been writing for the Sunday Times of Malta for a long time, dispensing advice on health that had benefitted and been appreciated by readers over the years. Her latest piece, which caused outrage over social media, “had the same benign intent.”
The paper will next Sunday publish “a comprehensive article presenting an expert medical view on the issue, to make sure readers get both sides of the story”.
“The newspaper will redouble its efforts to make sure it provides readers with high quality, reliable content at all times,” he added.
Seeing as the article referred to a disproved study made by Dr. Wakefield (who lost his job, career and reputation) and came amidst reports of a European outbreak in measles as more parents shun the MMR vaccine, readers were outraged.
Others took this opportunity to highlight a potential danger of social media’s new age of reporting news, and how having a lot of backing does not automatically make a certain view correct or one worth reporting.
The bottom line in all this, as other people commented, is not only the fact that vaccinations are vital, but that the claims against them have already been debunked.
And while different people were bound to have conflicting opinions about the matter, one thing’s for sure; there is much to learn from healthcare professionals and people who have already been through the ordeal of having children who suffer from autism.
As The Salott founder and moderator Moira Palmier pointed out, the article’s removal from Times Of Malta’s website already marked a realisation of the error. While many people were glad that the news outlet took it down, the article can still be read on all of TOM’s printed copies from Sunday.