Invisible Threat Documentary Is Journalism Done Well

Invisible Threat is an eye-opening 40-minute documentary produced by California high school students that explores the science of vaccination and how fears and misperceptions have led some parents to make dangerous decisions. In recognition of the premiere of Invisible Threat movement in Washington, D.C. on May 1, we are participating in a blog relay to raise awareness of this important issue.  Each day a different blogger will be discussing their personal perspective of the film as part of our 10-day countdown to a kick-off event with national legislators at the Capitol Visitors’ Center in Washington, DC.  Follow along to find out how you can join us in this movement, arrange for a local screening, and continue our fight against infectious diseases.

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by Robyn Correll Carlyle, MPH

Before I became a public health nerd, I was a journalist. I graduated with honors from the best journalism school in the country. And for a while, I chased leads, scrambled to meet deadlines, and rushed at the chance to see my byline in print. My life took me another way – a Peace Corps stint and an MPH — but I never stopped writing. And I will always appreciate a well-reported story.

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Which is why you can imagine my excitement last January when three of the student filmmakers from Invisible Threat were flying out to Texas for our premiere.

In a world where even news legend Katie Couric will cave to the temptation of a (baseless) controversy, the students were thorough and honest about the realities of vaccination and the need for truth in reporting.

They didn’t give a false balance – pitting misinformed anti-vaxers on the same footing as well-educated medical experts. They didn’t give “equal time for both sides” because that’s not the truth. Science lands hard on the side of vaccines, and that’s what they reported.

They didn’t play up any controversy for cheap dramatic effect. There’s plenty of drama in vaccine-preventable diseases, and lots of passion from those who are fighting to combat them. And that’s what the students drew out.

The fact that they were nearly bullied into abandoning the project, and they stood their ground to unearth the real story, is a testament to their talent and integrity as journalists.

So when those students came through the doors of Sundance Cinemas in Houston and took their walk down the red carpet, I couldn’t wait to shake their hands and congratulate them. Because I know how hard it is to be fair. To be balanced. To get the right story, and present it in a way that’s compelling and draws people in.

And those students nailed it.

Congratulations to them, and to the entire CHSTVfilms team, for a job well done. And from one journalist to another? Thank you.

You have the ability to make a difference in our fight against infectious diseases.  Follow our Invisible Threat Blog Relay and find out how you can be a part of the movement. Tomorrow’s post will be hosted by Moms Who Vax.  And be sure to friend the Invisible Threat Facebook and follow the filmmakers on Twitter @InvisThreat.

2 thoughts on “Invisible Threat Documentary Is Journalism Done Well

  1. How could I host a screening? I am a family doctor in Norther Virginia and would love to show this to patients in my practice.

    • That’s wonderful! We will contact you directly with details on how you can host a screening.

      Best regards,
      The Immunization Partnership

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