Did media ignore Melinda Gates’ TED talk on family planning?

Melinda Gates

The data is clear: Improved family planning worldwide could have almost incomprehensible benefits on many fronts:

That last point — about how saving kids’ lives also reduces population growth and increases family incomes — may seem counter-intuitive to some, especially all you Malthusians, but it makes sense of you think about it.

Most poor families have kids to help out on the farm and have, say, ten because five will die. If kids stop dying, families have fewer kids. It’s a documented phenomenon worldwide.

So holy cow! What a three- or four-for-one deal this family planning could be for us!

That was the message Melinda Gates was putting out to the world last week, in a TEDxChange talk as well as through several posts on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s blog Impatient Optimists.

Yet it appears hardly anybody in the media paid much attention.

AllAfrica.com ran an op-ed from Melinda and my former Seattle PI colleague Joel Connelly wrote about it as well — from the perspective of a devout Catholic (like Melinda) who thinks his church is missing the boat when it comes to contraception and family planning.

The aid and development blogosphere also covered Gates’ talk, such as at UN Dispatch — which noted how poorly the international community is doing on this front — and the PSI blog Healthy Lives. I watched the TED talk but didn’t write about it. Mea culpa. But I have written about Melinda’s message on this front many times before.

I’m curious to know if, as it appears by doing a Google news search, the mainstream media almost totally ignored the talk. And why?


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.

  • http://twitter.com/protectedstatic protectedstatic

    Probably because, outside of the anti-abortion zealots, this really isn’t controversial.

    Having fewer kids later also means increased education opportunities for women, which directly increases economic opportunities.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Philippe-Boucher/585203593 Philippe Boucher

    Because people in the US are not interested if planned parenthood abroad. The hot issue here (as ween with the Komen story) is local, here in the US. If Melinda Gates was fighting this fight here I am sure she would get much more coverage. Of course it would mean tackling the related political aspects including the causes of poverty… including the taxation reform. She would get a lot of coverage with that (as Warren Buffett did with his secretary, not that it had any significant impact… but there was coverage). It gets back to what the former commenter said: not controversial issue (as far as abroad is concerned in this mostly isolationist country, as mot countries are as well)

  • Gates Keepers

    It is not really ‘news’ that Belinda’s opposition to funding access to the means for family planning has finally collapsed. One wonders how long she and Gill could go on saying that children with surviving infants choose to have smaller families without the means to have them. There may be ‘news’ that Chris Elias convinced them. Or did he?