A few weeks ago, I agreed to be a media ambassador for Diabetes WA’s National Diabetes Week campaign. If you’ve been living under a rock this week, the campaign is calling on earlier detection of the signs and symptoms of diabetes.
Obviously the urgent and life threatening nature of type 1 diabetes is what picked the Editor’s interest the most, and I was told that The West Australian newspaper was interested in running a story. This is despite Diabetes WA’s media release providing equal attention to type 2 diabetes. (However, I do not know if the person with type 2 diabetes profiled in the release was prepared to do media).
The West Australian, in my opinion, are notoriously bad. The quality of journalism, in my opinion, is absolutely terrible. Unless you regard AFL footballers, Channel Seven personalities and Channel Seven television programs as news. The last diabetes article I read had the headline ‘cash strapped diabetic sufferers.’
So, it’s safe to say that I was feeling my fair share of nerves as I opened that newspaper to read how the story was covered yesterday morning.
I found out that The West were planning on running this story last Tuesday. The Editor left me a voice message late on Friday, which I promptly responded to with another voice message outlining my availability and willingness to chat. After a few SMS exchanges a day later, a photograph was arranged for Wednesday morning during Diabetes Research WA’s event for National Diabetes Week.
I was so looking forward to getting a professional photograph done, and jokingly told the photographer to make sure that I was smiling. I like to call myself Chandler Bing, because I always think that I am smiling during a photograph, only to see a very serious looking end result. I was also looking forward to getting a cheeky Instagram of me being photographed, and was bitterly disappointed to be told that I wasn’t allowed to.
We made our way across the road to the beautiful Lake Monger reserve, overlooking the city skyline and glorious Perth sunshine. Instead, the photographer placed me into the bushes, stuck a camera onto one of the trees and told me to walk toward him while looking sideways at this camera. I was then asked to go back and repeat the exercise, this time looking forward at him.
“Shouldn’t I be smiling?” I asked after realising that this was not a warm up exercise but the real thing.
“Isn’t this supposed to be a really serious story?” He replied.
After taking a few photos of me smiling, purely to humour me, our exercise was over.
As I made my way back toward the event I was attending, I expected that the Editor did not plan to ring me as she had said and that I would not have a chance to deliver some key messages on language.
I knew that I would have to get in touch with her and politely deliver the two key messages I had developed from some crowdsourcing during Tuesday night’s OzDOC chat, along with a copy of Diabetes Australia’s Position Statement on Language and Diabetes. I didn’t even care if my message didn’t get through, I only knew that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I hadn’t seized this chance to put my case forward.
As expected, I received a pointy email response back highlighting this Editor’s 25 years of medical writing experience. After somewhat defensively being told that terms such as ‘diabetic sufferers’ aren’t used, I had a suspicion that my message had gotten through.
Back to that moment where I was a bundle of nerves, flicking through the pages of that newspaper yesterday morning. Despite the serious photo, I couldn’t be prouder of the outcome.
‘Diabetic sufferer’ is nowhere to be found!