Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bad Journalism or Media Bias?

An article by Reuters titled Middle-aged Women Drive Rise in U.S. Suicides shown on highlights the problems with journalism today, and why the main stream media is dying. At best, this is incompetent and poor journalism, at worst it is media bias meant to sway the reader to a particular viewpoint.

First of all, is this rise a percentage rise or absolute rise in the percentage of people committing suicide? If we have 100 suicides and then next year have 102, that could be stated as a 2% rise, but the rise is actually negligible. What is the overall suicide rate in the US, interesting that the article doesn't mention this because we need a baseline to make sense of the situation.

This is a perfect example of crappy journalism and media bias. You MUST give a baseline or something we can measure suicide rates by in order for the reader to get some sense of perspective. These numbers, percentage increases, are meaningless without that base. I could say suicide rates doubled on my street corner, but that in itself doesn't mean much. If suicides were 1 last year and 2 now, then that's nothing, but if suicides were 50 on my street corner and now is 100, then we have a real crisis.

Why won't journalists do their jobs? Why do they keep on putting out crap articles that are meaningless and incomplete? A less thoughtful reader might be fooled or tricked into believing there is a real problem here. A smart reader understands no determination can be made due to lack of crucial facts deliberately left out. If they weren't deliberately left out, then the writer should be reprimanded for incompetence and bad writing. Such writers should be fired if they do it consistently, or even sometimes. My God, is it too much to expect journalists to report all the important facts?

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