Bad Journalism

As has been highlighted before on this blog the Daily Mail is particularly adept at exploiting the PCC’s ruling that ‘headlines are not actually part of a story’ and hence do not have to be accurate.

I was browsing through the brilliant Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science blog this morning and found an excellent article highlighting another way that the Mail seeks to mislead and yet stay within the ‘constraints’ of the PCC codes.

In essense, Dr Goldacre explains how the Daily Mail – continuing it’s bizzare oncological-ontology project* – ran a story claiming that a certain diet could reduce breast cancer risk by 40%. As Ben explains, there is no basis at all for this claim within the research. This study doesn’t assess cancer risk at all. It simply shows that certain dietary pattern can have effects on hormone levels. It is speculative in the extreme to make the link from the diet to breast cancer risk.

The Daily Mail know this. I know that they know this because they admit as much – all the way down in paragraph 19.  Ben explains very well in his blog the research that shows how people read newspapers and how this caveat is very likely to be missed by many (if not most) readers. However the Daily Mail can still claim accuracy for their article because it’s in there somewhere.

I do not think this is accidental. I think they know exactly what they are doing – they are using this technique to deliberately misinform.

That is journalism of the worst kind.


*Daily Mail’s on-going oncological-ontology project: to categorise all objects in the world as either ‘those that cause cancer’ or ‘those that cure cancer. Recent entries include Facebook as both a cause and a cure.

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