Tips for Caregivers on Speaking with the Media
The F.E.A.S.T. Speaker’s Bureau volunteers are active members of the F.E.A.S.T. community who have agreed to consider media interviews. We pass on press queries as a courtesy and in hopes of getting parent voices into the media discussion of eating disorders: we do not endorse or investigate the credentials of journalists.
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.
- The decision to be interviewed is a serious one and no one has a responsibility to do so
- 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
Beat’s Media Guidelines for Reporting Eating Disorders
F.E.A.S.T.’s Speaker’s Bureau
To speak with a member of the F.E.A.S.T. Speaker’s Bureau please contact us at info@FEAST-ed.org with details on country, experience, and special interest. Please give your project or story deadline, and whether the interviewee can use a pseudonym or otherwise protect their privacy.