Misleading For Sales: The New Journalism?

August 28, 2009 at 4:23 pm 1 comment

Or … Why Reading Won’t Make You Smart

More has been mis-stated about the topics of exercise and weight loss (that is two separate topics) over the years than has been correctly posited. I’ve come to accept this. But when a mostly reputable publication such as Time magazine marries the two into a cover story and blows it completely, I’m much more disappointed than accepting. And I wonder if misleading readers for sales gain has become the new journalism.

Time magazine’s recent cover piece “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” (August 9, 2009) leads readers to believe, through assumption and personal anecdote, that exercise merely causes post-workout hunger sated only by eating “more junk food, like doughnuts.” This is a problem of “compensation” or, as author John Cloud says, “the lip-licking anticipation of perfectly salted, golden-brown French fries after a hard trip to the gym.”

Cloud would have readers believe that pushing people to exercise may actually be contributing to our obesity problem. Exercise depletes our self-control muscle, he writes, leaving exercises more inclined to lounging with a bag of chips than some otherwise more healthful activity. Exercise less, he says so you’ll have more energy throughout the day to burn calories. Hmm, do less, so you can do more? This is the best advice from Time magazine’s journalistic information source?

The writer deserves some credit for revealing truths about exercise. But he buries them beneath faulty studies and mis-leading assumptions and anecdotes.

Clearly, Time’s goal here is selling magazines. That is, of course, its business model how it keeps Cloud on the payroll. Too bad Time couldn’t have used those same pages and that valuable cover space to provide a much-needed service to readers and the public about the facts of exercise’s impact on weight loss, especially when combined with simple eating habit corrections.

CBS news tackled a similar topic, likely enticed by Time’s erroneous assumptions, titled “Can Exercise Make You Gain Weight?”

This new piece actually presented facts that can lead readers to true understanding about the relationship between exercise and weight loss. And CBS provided this information faster than Time’s Cloud can finish off a small order of fries.


Entry filed under: exercise, fitness, journalism, Personal, Writing. Tags: , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. John Bowers  |  September 16, 2009 at 6:51 am

    Just read the article and couldn’t agree more. First, exercise works the opposite for me. If I’m gonna go through all that pain, I’m not going to ruin it with a Big Mac. Second point, now you know why I don’t subscribe (nor purchase) newspapers, magazines, etc. Written by and for imbeciles. Why waste the money ?


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