Tips for Caregivers on Speaking with the Media
The F.E.A.S.T. Speaker's Bureau volunteers are members who have agreed to consider media interviews. We do not endorse or investigate the credentials of journalists; we are passing on these queries as a courtesy and in hopes of getting parent voices into the media discussion of eating disorders.
While F.E.A.S.T. is eager to add caregiver-oriented voices to the public view of eating disorders, we also want to encourage responsible journalism and caution interviewees of potential issues.
• Families can refuse to participate in exploitive or sensationalist interviews
• Parents can ask for anonymity for themselves and their children, or use pseudonyms
• Parents can refuse to answer questions about medical details like weights, and refuse to provide pictures of a patient when gravely ill
• Before/After photos of patients are a potentially harmful visual cliché that misleads the public about a mental illness that cannot be understood by appearance
• Families can ask for details of the planned piece, but need to know that there is no guarantee that the original vision will apply to the finished product
• Journalists are rarely familiar with the stigma, history, or issues involved with eating disorders, and may hold antiquated ideas
• Eating disorders are complex, but media reports are by design very simple and may miss important points
• Parents should think through all possible consequences of public scrutiny of family and patient before agreeing to an interview
• No family should feel pressured to do interviews or answer questions that cause them discomfort
For more information on media responsibility, please read NEDA’s Guidelines for Sharing Your Story Responsibly and Beat's Media Guidelines for Reporting Eating Disorders.