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The press release time warp

July 27th, 2013 at 01:15pm

Today’s Fairfax Radio News national 12pm eastern bulletin had an interesting story about how dogs can help people to de-stress at the end of a busy day. It featured a vet by the name of Dr. David Neck who was talking about how going to the park with your dog can be fun for both you and the dog.

No problems so far, and I have to admit that it wasn’t the content of the story which caught my attention as, seeing as I have dogs, the fact that it can be fun to play with dogs is not news to me. What caught my attention was the name of the vet. Dr. Neck? Really? For some reason there seem to be a lot of medical professionals with body parts in their name. Dr. Andrew Foote (not spelled “foot”, but it’s pronounced “foot”) is a prominent doctor here in Canberra who pops up in the media regularly, and there are others in various news reports around the world. This always seems to catch my attention for some reason and I wanted to check if I had misheard it.

It seems that I heard correctly. Dr. David Neck is a vet in Cottesloe in Western Australia. With that out of the way, I went in search of the story which I had heard in the news…but I couldn’t find it from a Google News search. That’s not uncommon, especially for press releases which are released to the media on a weekend when fewer staff are on-hand in most places and insignificant press releases are more likely to be ignored.

A general search for the story did lead me to something rather odd. It seems to have disappeared from the website recently, but Google cached the website of the Australian Veterinary Association on the 8th of July, which is just short of three weeks ago. At that time, the website carried a press release dated Wednesday, 25 July 2012 which is very familiar.

Media release

Furry friends help humans to de-stress

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

With Lifeline’s Stress Down Day coming up on 27 July, the Australian Veterinarian Association (AVA) is reminding people how important pets are in keeping us healthy and happy.

“Research shows that people who own pets are healthier and happier as they provide a sense of well-being and allow people to feel a part of their community said Dr David Neck, President of the Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association, a special interest group of the AVA.

“Those who live in cities and have stressful jobs can really benefit from having a four legged friend to come home to.

“A pet staring up at you when you come home asking for that pat of recognition can help to put everything in perspective.

“I get a real kick out of being greeted by my dog Fonti at the end of a hard day.

“Her affection is boundless. She offers love, companionship and a non-judgemental ear, all for a bit of food and attention.”

For many people one of the best ways to de-stress is through regular moderate exercise, which is exactly the sort of exercise you get interacting with your devoted companion.

“Walking your pet in your neighbourhood gives you a strong appreciation of your environment and gets you out talking to others who are doing the same thing.”

Dr Neck said that like humans, animals need to interact and communicate in order to remain healthy.

“This becomes a win win. Pets need regular exercise, socialisation, a healthy diet and love and attention and they’ll give back four-fold.

“It’s important to ensure you can provide all of these things before getting a pet and choose the right pet to suit your lifestyle.”

It continues after this with various links to websites of the Australian Veterinary Association, and phone numbers for media enquiries…but doesn’t that sound very much like the story which I heard on the radio this afternoon? It is effectively the same story. Dogs are nice. Exercise is beneficial for humans and dogs. Exercising with your dog will help you to de-stress. Dr. Neck has plenty of quotes. It’s the same story!

So, my question is, was the press release re-issued this year? Or did Fairfax Radio News recycle it with a grab of Dr. Neck from last year. I find the latter scenario highly unlikely, but then I also can’t see why roughly the same press release would be issued almost exactly a year after the original press release.

It has been a bit of an odd few days for news reports of insignificant things. Among other things:

The list goes on, but I can only take so many pointless studies at a time before I start to yearn for my tax dollars to be spent on more useful things…and besides which, if we give it a year, a whole new set of studies will tell us the opposite of these studies, and tell us the same things as these studies. I wonder if we will also hear about the benefits of going for a run with the dog in a year from now?

Samuel

Entry Filed under: Bizarreness,Samuel's Editorials,TV/Radio/Media

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2 Comments

  • 1. frank83  |  July 28th, 2013 at 8:45 am

    I can only take so many pointless studies at a time before I start to yearn for my tax dollars to be spent on more useful things

    Like teaching reading comprehension to sanctimonious bloggers? Of the four studies you cited three are funded by private companies. The only study brought about by public funding was from Switzerland, where I doubt you pay any tax.

    If you’re going to complain about your tax dollars being wasted perhaps you should cite studies that actually use your tax dollars.

  • 2. Samuel  |  July 28th, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Congratulations. It has taken you many years and many pseudonyms, but at long last you have found a valid criticism of something I have written. Well done.

    I probably should have cited some pointless studies funded by Australian taxpayers, although seeing as it wasn’t really my main point, it’s not something to which I gave a lot of thought. The point I should have made was about my objection to the waste of taxpayer dollars (not just mine, but taxpayer dollars in general) on studies which seem to be of no real benefit, as a matter of principle.

    More importantly, I should have more clearly noted that I worry about the state of news reporting when pointless studies seem to make their way in to the news on most days, and that recycled press releases can get coverage quite easily.

    Perhaps I should blog more regularly so that, when I do blog, I do so in a state of mind which is more accustomed to phrasing my points in a manner which makes more sense than the above blog post.


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