From war correspondents filing stories from the front line while bullets scorch their hairlines, to the intrepid detective work of Woodward and Bernstein, there is a great history of heroic journalism. Today the Aegis Training blog joins that tradition, as ace reporter Zack Cahill goes deep behind enemy lines, and reads the health section of the Daily Mail-
"I was about to buy a copy at my local newsagents but at the last minute the shame was too great, I lost my nerve and bought pornography instead. Retreating to my flat I decided to log in online. I type in the address, my iPad immediately responds with "didn't you mean www.guardian.co.uk?", but I push on.
Some first impressions. A quick count reveals nine separate headlines containing the word cancer or tumour. It's been said the Mail is engaged in the Sisyphean task of dividing all the inanimate objects in the world into those which either cause or cure cancer. This would support that hypothesis.
Also present are some fine examples of Betteridge's law ("if the headline is a question , the answer is no")
"Did having her ears pierced make this schoolgirls heart stop?"
Naturally there are also plenty of stories trashing the NHS and by extension the welfare state . Doctors are accused of "refusing" life saving drugs in two separate articles while in another magnets are put forward as a viable cure for cancer. I tried to see the funny side but just became depressed and had to console myself by staring at pictures of sunbathing celebrities until my eyes glazed over and I felt the caress of intellectual oblivion. In an interesting parallel with the cancer cure/cause phenomena, it appears that women in Mail World also exist in a binary state. They are either "curvy" which is anywhere from a size 12 to 30 stone, or "worryingly thin". Nothing in between.
But enough toe dipping, it was time to dive right in, I clicked tab marked "diets" and, placing my narrowly spaced fingers over my eyes like a girlfriend watching a horror movie, I read on.
And, oh God. Now I understand. Now I know why a human race that survived for millions of years before even coining the term "glycemic index" , let alone understanding it, now find it so hard to figure out what to eat.
Popcorn and pork scratching are a superfood "claim dieticians"
Using ever more bizarre methods , from eating Special curries, to drinking maple syrup, Celebrities and normal people lose weight and gain it and lose it again. Expanding like bread rising in an oven in a time lapse video before violently contracting again.
Battered by a barrage of bullshit I click the iPad off, longing for a sturdy laptop where at least I could slam the screen closed.
I am left exhausted , wondering if as a health writer I am actually part of the problem, and oddly convinced that immigrants are stealing from me. "