Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Conquest of Polio

In 1953, American scientists discovered an anecdote to the polio virus. The remedy--in the form of an injection--consisted of a disarmed polio virus mixed with mineral oils in order to boast the power of the vaccine. This discovery became one of the greatest breakthroughs in American medicine which received timely press throughout the nation in order to prepare the American masses for the vaccine's release into the hands of the public. Advanced medicine was still somewhat of a frontier in the early 1950s, so the creation of an effective and safe polio vaccine was one of the various indications of the progression of American medicine.
Many articles across the nation produced similar coverage of the profound discovery, yet The Los Angeles Times was a unique publication because it provided the most specific details about the vaccine's journey toward exposure to the public. "New Polio Vaccine Tried on Humans" was one of the first articles to report on human experimentation with the vaccine. By simply reading the title, the reader cannot distinguish if the outcomes of the experiment, yet if one read further, the lead states that the results have prevailed past its first human hurdle. Since the reporter used a professor (Jonas E. Salk) and his widespread experiment, the reporter's credibility immediately escalates. Salk's  meticulous experiment also gains the reporter credibility because the test used a largely ranged sample group (161 persons aged 4 to 49) to support the results of the development. 
The article gains the loyalty of its readers by providing a sense of security through its conscientious explanation of the origins of the vaccine. The article states, "The best-bet vaccine is made out of all three types of polio virus, grown in test tube farms, and then killed with formaldehyde...the virus [then] can't cause polio, but still can stimulate the human body to produce antibodies..." The account of the "how" and "why" boosts faith in the new discovery, and--with regards to press--enhances reader loyalty to the newspaper.
The Washington Post is more skeptical of this defeat of the same "human hurdle" as in the Los Angeles Times. By the second paragraph of  Washington Post's "New Polio Vaccine Tests 'Encouraging'", the journalist had already inculcated doubt within its readers. He reports, "[A young scientist] cautioned against thinking that a practical vaccine is here for everyone to kill polio's sting." 
This article also includes more information about the history of the quest for a polio vaccine and the origin of the motives to pursue it. He states, "The new vaccine is a culmination of years of research by many scientists backed by March of Dimes funds." The journalist delves into Salk's process for constructing the vaccine as opposed to a brief synopsis given in the Los Angeles Times article. The Washington Post explains, "The tubes are sealed, and put into an incubating oven at body temperature...[then] Dr. Salk pours out the liquid and puts it into a centrifuge...the virus is frozen, get only virus and nothing else." 
Thus, the Los Angeles Times seems to appeal to the reader on a sensational level by envoking hope and capturing emotion and excitement. Yet The Washington Post Article appeals to readers on a intellectual level.


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