Saturday, September 6, 2008

Journalism: Too Much or Too Little Detail

In the usually meticulous New York Times, in an opinion piece called The Two Weeks You Missed, William Falk writes:

Last summer, warming temperatures melted more of the Arctic ice cap than at any time since measurements have been taken.

There is no qualification as to when people started taking measurements of ice cap melting. As far as I know, it was last Tuesday. So this statement, presumably intended to alert me to impending doom at the North Pole, really means nothing.

I don't doubt that there is impending doom from global warming. I'd just like more careful journalism to disclose it.

I've also noticed the opposite situation. I frequently see and hear journalists making statements like:

Wall Street suffered its biggest one day drop since last month.

Since last month? Big whoop! Wake me when something actually happens.

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