Journalism: FAIL

Posted on November 4, 2011

1


OK, what’s wrong with the following paragraph (from this story):

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will take steps to remove 20 rodent control products from the marketplace because they contain toxic chemicals.

Last I checked, the entire point of rat poison was that you were trying to kill rats with “toxic chemicals.”

Reading the rest of the article it becomes clear that the EPA is removing the rat poisons from the market because they’re deemed unsafe to people in comparison to other products that are safe(r). In other words, the issue isn’t that the rat poisons contain toxic chemicals, but rather that the toxic chemicals are too easily accessed by people, especially children.

I don’t know who was responsible for that lede, whether it was the piece’s author or the editor, but that individual either didn’t know the necessary science or was in way too constrained, in terms of time or words, to write an accurate lede.

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Posted in: Journalism