Sunday, September 30, 2007

Editing... revisited

I enjoy revisiting topics. Every day I come across an instance where I hear or see someone not using the skills to edit information put out into the public. Next time you watch the news on your local television channel, pay attention to the reports on "health studies" that they report. Usually, they preface the report with a teaser before a commercial so that you continue to watch. This usually sounds something like this... "When we come back, find out why walking down a city street in the middle of the day may lead to an early death". They rely on the shock of the report. When they finally get to the story, they interview someone that was walking down the street and came across a man hole cover that was loose. This person decided to get on the news by calling the news station and reporting their near death story. The next day, everyone that sees this report, immediately fears man hole covers and stays clear of them.

This is a made-up story of course. I was using it as a metaphor for how ridiculous I think some news reports are. A great example of this fear reporting... 3 drinks daily increase risk for breast cancer . I recently saw this report on the news and then looked it up of the Internet. Now, the report says that if a woman is to drink 3 alcohol drinks daily, she increases her risk of breast cancer by 30% or as much as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. First of all, I don't know any women who drink 3 alcohol drinks a day. If they do drink three drinks a day, they probably already smoke a pack of cigarettes.

This is not the point though. The report did its job. Now everyone equates drinking 3 drinks daily with smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. People go to work the next day like they are intelligent and start barking statistics out that they heard on the news. Now everyone thinks that drinking a few drinks every day is as harmful as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. The report told you what they wanted to tell you and didn't mention all of the other harmful effects of smoking. The news focuses on the shock value of the report and wants you to watch their station.

This is where editing needs to come into play. As a society, we need to listen, learn, and then decide what is a true and valid study. These statistics may be true, but we as a society need to learn how to question a study and not give so much credit to the reports.

No comments: