In an article entitled “Autism and Vaccines: UBC Defends the Freedom to Research,” the University of British Columbia’s student newspaper, The UBYSSEY and writer Danni Shanel do something few commercial newspapers and professional journalists do when the subject is vaccines —present the news accurately and fairly.
Shanel describes attacks by official bodies such as the World Health Organization on the university’s Christopher Shaw, and coverage by CBC of those attacks. And Shanel also provides balance, by giving Shaw the opportunity to defend himself and his work, including an explanation of the science that leads him to believe “that autism is most probably the result of a combination of genetic susceptibility and its interaction with one of many possible toxins.” By virtue of its fair coverage, The UBYSSEY demonstrated academic freedom by example.
The UBYSSEY, the largest paper in Western Canada, is also unusual in that it is based at a university that still upholds academic freedom. Unlike other universities, UBC defended the principle of academic freedom when Shaw came under attack earlier this month.
Danni Shanel and The UBYSSEY both rate kudos for setting a standard that their colleagues in the professional media should aspire to.