COMMENTS: On the Feature Front

Both NBC and CBS filed disease-of-the-week style medical features. NBC's Robert Bazell continued his demographically-targeted Medical Mysteries series on auto-immune diseases to which women are disproportionately susceptible, this time rheumatoid arthritis. For CBS' Eye on Your Health in-house physician Jon LaPook also picked up on a women's ailment. The Journal of the Medical Association published a study of mammogram screening among pre-menopausal women with dense breast tissue. Ultrasound scans find some tumors that a mammogram cannot see but also "quadrupled the number of false positives, those women getting unnecessary breast biopsies." LaPook decided not to make a recommendation to his insured viewers about what to do: "I think women need to talk to their doctor." For those with no insurance and no doctor he had nothing to say whatsoever.

ABC and CBS pitched in with a couple of green features. CBS has Nancy Cordes on her Eye on the Road car trip from New York City to Missouri. She stopped in Indiana where the hog-rearing town of Reynolds has a plan to become Biotown USA by relying entirely on energy from manure from its 150,000 pigs. "Reynolds residents have found it is not easy going green," Cordes concluded. Ground was broken on its pig waste power plant back in 2006 "but today it is still an empty field." Dan Harris filed the energy conservation portion of ABC's The Power of 2 self-help series on lifestyle alterations individuals can make to affect social change. Harris suggested having the local electric utility conduct an energy audit of one's home and cutting back on consumption of beef and dairy. A United Nations statistic claims that fully 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions--fertilizer, transportation, methane flatulence, industrialized slaughterhouses--are caused by cattle agribusiness.

Harris concluded, however, by undercutting the premise of The Power of 2, namely that microchanges at the personal level can have a societal impact. Global warming "is such an enormous problem that it is going to require that governments all over the world attack it."


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