Archive for August 10th, 2010

As mentioned in recent post, I have a tattoo on my wrist now that reads: Arcum tenderi Vertatum Dicere. It’s there to remind me as I work that writing true is a responsibility whether I’m writing fact or fiction.

Or even news.

There are rules to journalism, but once again a story from the BBC indicates that a rocko-socko headline, no matter how ridiculous, takes precedent.

Puts me in mind of a bit of Evelyn Waugh verse:

You cannot hope
to bribe or twist,
thank God! the
British journalist.

But, seeing what
the man will do
unbribed, there’s
no occasion to.

The headline that has me on this rant this morning?

Large waist size linked to ‘higher risk of death’

I’m not bothering to mention how annoying I find the BBC’s “compulsion” to wrap quotation marks around “random words” in headlines, as if “qualifying” their “shouts” makes them “less accountable” for “poor choices” and “lazy editing”, although I do find it “very annoying”.

What’s bugging me is the “higher risk of death” thing heading the piece and much of the copy that follows:

… very high waist measurements equivalent to UK size 24-26 in women and XXXXL in men appear to double the risk of mortality.

The study featured was conducted over a nine year period, so the research counted how many involved died over those years. Fine. There’s some science in that. So can we not be shouting from the rooftops that some folks have a “higher risk of death” than others?

Okay. I do understand that what they are trying to say is that obesity is known to cause health issues that may end up being the cause of death … perhaps “premature” death, meaning that extremely fat folks might live longer if they dropped tonnage.

BUT … that not what they write. Well … not until you crawl down the page a bit and fill in some of the blanks, and it becomes the reader’s job to figure out what the heck instead of the writer’s responsibility to clearly report what the heck.

Let’s get something straight … everyone dies, and everyone dies once, so there is no possibility of “doubling the risk of mortality”, at least not until someone gets a handle on that immortality thing and is able to put it on the market.

As ‘infotainment” contaminates more corners of journalism and consumers of “news” are dumbed down daily … outFoxed? … those who see the difference between reporting and appealing, enlightening vs entertaining, sense and sensationalism, should bust the chops of anyone paid to post pap and remind them that when they don’t understand what they’re writing about to ask more questions, because not doing so and simply writing what scans results in a “higher risk of disparagement”.

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