Wednesday, February 08, 2012

World's most inaccurate news report is about - guess what?

Yes, the 2011 "Orwellian Prize for Journalistic Misrepresentation" has been awarded to a Daily Mail piece by Tamara Cohen on cannabis. The British tabloid touched all bases with its headline:
Just ONE cannabis joint ‘can bring on schizophrenia’ as well as damaging memory.
The prize, for the most mangled report of a scientific paper, is awarded by University of Oxford professor Dorothy Bishop, who blogged:
Suffice it to say, the academic paper is not about cannabis, smoking or schizophrenia. Rather it is about an artificial compound that is not present in cannabis, which was injected into rats, and which led to changes in their brain waves.
Prof Bishop identified four errors in the headline and others in all paragraphs of the story but one. Four paragraphs out of eight were wholly erroneous.

The one accurate paragraph reveals that the rats had electrodes implanted in their brains and found that the drug impaired the rats' performance for around two hours.

Prof Bishop awarded the prize to the paper's editor, Paul Dacre, recognising it was likely the journalist had been pressured into writing this tripe. So much for fair and balanced reporting.

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