A Strong Consensus of Editorial Support
Over the past dozen or so years, the topic of community water fluoridation (CWF) has generated intense discussion in a variety of U.S. cities and communities. In many cases, daily newspapers share their perspective through editorials. A five-year analysis of editorials from these newspapers reveals that more than 80% of them endorsed fluoridation. This is noteworthy for several reasons.
First and foremost, if you’ve ever worked at a newspaper, you know that an editorial on a new topics is typically written over a few days — and only after an editor has contacted experts in the field and reviewed key reports or studies.
Second, daily newspapers are independent voices that aren’t connected to a corporate entity or political group. They aren’t trying to sell water filters or anything else that would give them a vested interest in promoting or attacking a health practice like fluoridation.
Third, editorial boards either meet face-to-face with or read information submitted by people on both sides of an issue. For example:
- When the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel considered writing an editorial, they first agreed to hear from a local critic and the executive director of the Fluoride Action Network, which also opposes the practice. The newspaper’s editorial explained that “their arguments, no doubt sincere, aren’t based on much more than anecdote, conjecture and studies that aren’t particular relevant to the U.S. practice of community water fluoridation.” The Journal-Sentinel urged the city council to “stick with the practice of adding fluoride to the city’s water supply.”
- Last year, the editorial page editor of the Johnson City Press — an Eastern Tennessee newspaper — wrote about the information he received from a critic of fluoridation. “Most of the so-called proof she lists is the same unsubstantiated claims opponents of fluoridation have said for years,” he summed up.
Whether newspapers are based in New England, the Farm Belt, the South or the West Coast, their editors tend to have something in common: after closely examining what both sides say, they overwhelmingly decide to support fluoridation.