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The Big Picture

Web ghouls put in place

March 22, 2009|Patrick Goldstein; Karen Kaplan; Rene Lynch

Nearly every day you can find an example of someone rushing a story into the blogosphere that turns out to be, well, not really true, as I noted in a post when the showbiz press was full of reports that Summit Entertainment had hired a new director for one of its "Twilight" sequels, when in fact the company hadn't even finished interviewing possible candidates.

Now we have the depressing example of the ghoulish swarm of coverage of Natasha Richardson's horrific skiing accident, which reached its nadir with this post from Time Out NY's theater blog, which prematurely killed off the actress, running the headline: "RIP Natasha Richardson 1963-2009."

I'm not sure what was worse, Time Out being in such a rush to be first that it put up such an offensive, sob-sister post in the first place or that it proceeded to insult everybody with a shameless display of false piety, ending the post by quoting from Shakespeare's "Cymbeline."

If the worst thing about the blogosphere is its endless pursuit of the ephemeral, the best thing is surely the ability of readers to instantly offer their reaction to shoddy journalism. Mere minutes after Time Out had its post up, the verdict was in: In terms of cruddy journalism, Time Out was guilty as charged. It was refreshing to see that readers haven't grown so cynical about the blogosphere that they aren't outraged when it reaches a new nadir. My favorite response, from the aptly named Ghost of Edward Murrow, was a far better example of writing than the original piece. It went as follows: "Time Out's credibility was declared brain dead today. The site suffered a horrific fall when rushing to get the scoop on the personal tragedy of a fine actress and her family, and according to anyone with a clue, will not recover."

-- Patrick Goldstein

From: The Big Picture: Patrick Goldstein on the collision of entertainment, media and pop culture

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Using maggots in medicine

A clinical trial in Britain has found that maggots can play a significant role in healthcare: They are just as good at cleaning certain kinds of wounds as standard hydrogel dressings.

Sterile fly larvae were applied to leg ulcers that were at least 25% covered in dead tissue. Once in contact with necrotic skin, the maggots got busy -- and fast. Loose larvae were able to debride (or clean) a wound in an average of 14 days, while bagged larvae took 28 days. By comparison, patients treated with hydrogel had to wait an average of 72 days for debridement to be complete.

The advantage dissipated when it came to measuring the time needed for wounds to heal completely. Maggots took an average of 236 days, compared to an average of 245 days for hydrogel. The difference wasn't statistically significant.

The study, involving 267 patients in 18 medical centers, reported one drawback to the larvae treatment (besides the gross-out factor). Removal of maggots after the first stage of treatment was rated as twice as painful as removal of hydrogel. The researchers recommend that doctors consider larvae therapy if their goal is to clean a wound quickly in preparation for a skin graft or other surgery.

The results were published in the British Medical Journal.

-- Karen Kaplan

From: Booster Shots: Oddities, musings and some news from the world of health.

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Michelle Obama's new garden

First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign to encourage healthy eating got underway in earnest with the groundbreaking Friday for a White House garden. The garden, slated for the South Lawn, will help supply produce for the White House kitchen. There will be dozens of organic vegetables planted, including arugula. But no beets.

Somewhere, Alice Waters is rejoicing.

Chez Panisse founder Waters, who was featured in a "60 Minutes" profile on CBS, has been one of the most vocal proponents of an organic vegetable garden on the White House lawn.

-- Rene Lynch

From: Daily Dish: The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

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