Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Well, There Was This Earthquake, See...

"Haiti Gives Death Toll of 270, 000; No Explanation"

In fairness, the actual report is about uncertainty in the various numbers, and in fact, uncertainty in where the numbers are even coming from. But it's yet another example of editors' and journalists' apparent incompetence at reporting news, and going for the sensationalist angle. Say all you want about the impact of the web on traditional media, but this kind of thing isn't helping.

It would also be unfair of me not to at least mention that the actual article is important, riveting and heartbreaking:
It's common in major disasters to see large discrepancies in death tolls: Governments may use lower figures to save face, or higher figures to attract foreign aid. In Haiti's case, however, where the very institutions responsible for compiling information were themselves devastated, reaching a death toll is particularly difficult.

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