Wednesday, December 08, 2004

How to irritate your readers

(note: the intent of this post is to instruct, not to deliver.)

Another "pretend news" story:
...Geberding said the CDC considers the likelihood of a bird flu pandemic to be "very high."

Dr. David R. Johnson, director of scientific and medical affairs at Aventis Pasteur, said that a bird flu pandemic is generally considered "a question of when, not if."
What is "very high"? 50% likelihood within 6 months? 5%? 1%?
Another meteor strike causing mass extinctions on earth is also "a question of when, not if", but hardly something to lie awake nights worrying about. When the "when" is "when you've been dead for millions of years", it does cut down on the perceived urgency.

Quantitative ballpark figures would have rescued this part of the story from the "cognitive allergen" dustbin - as it is, it's written to impart emotions, not information, and cranky readers find this frustrating.

BTW, there are far more newsworthy topics to blog about - for example the Vote rigging affidavit (doubts) (or not; Wired takes note)
, presaged by Britt Blaser's Secreted Ballots and a War Story.

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