January 16, 2014
Paul G. Haaga, Jr.
NPR President and CEO
635 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20001
RE: Chiropractic on NPR
Dear Mr. Haaga:
First let me say I’ve been a member of public radio my entire adult life and to me it remains the only intelligent radio programming.
However, as a 34-year chiropractic practitioner, I’ve often wondered over all these years why I rarely hear any insightful commentary on NPR about my profession that is now considered the third-largest physician-level profession in the world and, foremost, deals primarily spine-related disorders.
For example, recently Morning Edition aired a program about back pain, “Pain In The Back? Exercise May Help You Learn Not To Feel It” by Pattie Neighmond and Richard Knox (January 13, 2014) that failed to mention a variety of conservative measures that have been proven effective, chiefly chiropractic care.
Indeed, producing an article about back pain treatments that fails to include chiropractic care would be tantamount to a discussion on tooth decay and not mentioning dentistry. As an author myself on the history of chiropractic, I understand the medical antipathy towards chiropractic that permeates some in the media, but I would like to believe NPR is above that type of prejudice nowadays.
This is not the first time NPR has aired such an omission on Morning Edition (“Military Pokes Holes In Acupuncture Skeptics’ Theory,” Feb. 15, 2012). In this era of diversity and tolerance, I am shocked that NPR again failed to consider commentary by any spokesperson from my profession.
When I researched the frequency of chiropractic as a topic on my six favorite NPR programs, I was further startled by the findings:
• All Things Considered: 8 of 87,252 = 0.009%
• Morning Edition: 4 of 79,782 = 0.005%
• Talk of the Nation Science Friday: 0 of 1,918 = 0.0%
• Weekend All Things Considered: 0 of 5,346 = 0.0%
• Fresh Air: 0 of 1,286 = 0.0%
• Talk of the Nation: 1 of 9,485 = 0.01054%
This accounting shows only 13 articles on chiropractic in 185,069 segments on these NPR programs, which equates to a frequency rate of only 0.0070091%.
Considering the fact that the chiropractic is the third-largest physician-level profession in the world at a time when back pain is the #1 disabling condition in the nation, the failure to include chiropractic is indeed confusing.
In light of the changing paradigm in spine care, I find it odd that your NPR journalists do not find chiropractic a newsworthy item. As the recent program admitted, medical treatments are just not effective for the majority of back pain cases.
Just consider these major issues:
- the epidemic of back pain strikes 80% of adults with costs approaching $100 billion annually,
- the recent research condemning the medical treatments consisting primarily of addictive opioid drugs, ineffective epidural shots, and costly spine surgery in American healthcare,
- the research showing the basis of spine fusion—the disc theory—is outdated since abnormal discs occur in asymptomatic patients, and
- chiropractic care is now recommended by all international spine guidelines as a “proven treatment” (ironically, including the guideline of the North American Spine Society itself).
Lastly, Mr. Haaga, as much as I love NPR, I am deeply disappointed in your network’s obvious boycott of my profession. I call upon your sense of journalistic fairness to correct this ignorance of chiropractic care at NPR. A hurting public needs to know about our brand of non-drug and non-surgical care for this back pain epidemic.
I urge you to contact Mr. Jim Potter, CEO, at the American Chiropractic Association headquartered in Arlington to learn about the benefits of our brand of spinal care for the myriad of health problems that respond to our natural care.
JC Smith, MA, DC
Chiropractors for Fair Journalism.com