8 Lies It's Surprisingly Easy to Tell as a Health Reporter

#4. Lack of Space It is of course possible that our reporter is fully aware of the limitations in the evidence he's reporting on, or how his expert is literally a puppet being manipulated by a shady oil executive.

"Drink two barrels of Brent Crude every day to reduce joint wear during cold-weather start-ups!"

And maybe this reporter would love nothing more than to lay out a well-reasoned discussion of what this study means and how we should responsibly incorporate its lessons into our lives. And then his editor tells him, no, he can't have 3,800 words for his article on pears, and to stop asking such stupid fucking questions. This can even happen semi-accidentally, thanks to something called the inverted pyramid format, which is how most articles for mainstream newspapers get written. The idea behind this is to have the most important point of the article written first, followed by the next most important ideas, and so on.

Compare with the inverted rectangle format we use at Cracked.

This way, if an editor ever needs to trim an article quickly to save space, she can just lop off the bottommost words and leave a shorter but still generally readable product. And seeing as caveats and limitations are the kinds of wienery, unimportant items that can get stuffed toward the bottom of an article, this occasionally makes them the first on the chopping block. This is how a well-reasoned treatise on pear health tips gets turned into a 300-word summary, and how reporters grow disillusioned with the industry, and how the pear-wine industry thrives thanks to the thirsts of disillusioned reporters, and how everything else in the world gets just a bit shittier. _______________________________________________________________________ #3. Lack of Giving a Damn It is also possible that maybe our reporter knows what's what, and even has space to tell us what's what, but he simply doesn't give a damn. That sounds harsh, but once you realize a couple points about newspaper writing, you can see how this can happen: - Writing a 500-word story that involves three interviews and five hours of background research is hard. - Writing a 500-word story that regurgitates someone else's news release is easy. - Both pay the same. I'll be as fair as I can here: I honestly think most journalists get into their profession because of a genuine desire to write honestly and relate "the truth" as best as they can. And most of the time, they try to do just that. But some days -- about 1 in 5, I suspect -- it's Friday goddamned evening and these journalists just want to go home and pour a nice tall bowl of pear wine, and maybe do a bit of live reporting from the scene of a pile-up between their mistress' thighs. Remember that reporting is still a job, and if you've ever had one of those, you'll know that some days "good enough" sure as fuck feels good enough.


Because the overall meta-structure for this column works a lot better if I include a couple of pieces of broad, probably dangerous advice, here's exactly that: #2. Destroy All Newspapers So if you didn't know it already, I think by now I've proven that newspapers are occasionally wrong, or less than completely helpful in certain circumstances. You should stop reading and, I guess, eating newspapers immediately. Most importantly, under no circumstances should you ever again take medical advice from someone who isn't wearing one of those old-timey medical reflectors.


_______________________________________________________________________ #1. Eat Sausage All the Time According to a recent study, sausage is guaranteed good times. You should be eating it all the time, and take note that I am not telling you to "eat sausage at every meal." I mean I want you to at all times have some sausage in your mouth. This is the only way to protect against media misinformation, deliciousness deficiency and heartbeats. Note that you can trust me in this particular circumstance, as I have recently acquired an old-timey medical reflector, which I am wearing now.

Getty"Ok, Mr Bucholz, I... Where did your pants go? And did you take that out of my cabinet? No, don't give it back. You keep it. That's yours now."


For more from Bucholz, check out 10 Awesome Ways to Quit Your Job and How to Abuse Your Customers And Pass It Off As 'Marketing'.

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