creative commons Krelic

Just to make things clear, I am a huge fan of Discovery News – I even have a link to them from my blog.  However, I have a gripe.  If they are going to use the word “News” in the title, they should be reporting things in a responsible, news-worthy manner.   A recent piece from their technology writer, Tracy Staedter, reads a lot more like a lousy blog post than a news article.

First off the title is “Man Allergic to Wi-Fi; Sues Neighbor”.  Yet another tiresome sensationalized headline, *sigh*.  Ok, moving on… the next two paragraphs go alright as far as content goes (stylistically it seems a bit lazy to me… but hey, I’m the blogger that wishes I had a writing job, she’s actually got the job).  She tries to make the point of how ubiquitous things like wi-fi signals are.  Fine, fine.  Then she goes on to back up her claims – and this is where things totally fall apart:

She cites a study that found that people who claim they can perceive electromagnetic fields (wi-fi, radio, microwaves, light, etc. all create electromagnetic fields) probably can’t actually sense them.   My problem is with her colloquial, imprecise language where she writes:

“…the study contends that this kind of sensitivity is all in a person’s head.”

Well, so what kind of study was it?  What do you mean by “this kind” of sensitivity?  What do you mean it’s all in their head?  Are they actually sensitive in their head?  Or does she mean, they just think they’re sensitive, but it’s really all made up?  It’s not like she was running out of space to explain further or anything.  It is an internet piece, and she put a whole 200 words of effort into it.

Ok, so how about her other source?  Oh yeah, that would be a whopping two sentence long blog post, talking about how some people in Africa claimed to feel sick from a cell phone tower nearby that wasn’t actually in use.  Sounds like a totally reliable source to me.  It scares me a little when the news is getting their information from a blog that in turn saw it somewhere else.

In conclusion,what could have been a great teaching moment has sadly been lost to some very lazy reporting.